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Noteworthy Women: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

She’s one of the most well known legal minds in the country and currently serves on the Supreme Court. Learn a bit more about female icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Early Years

Ruth Bader was born to working class parents in Brooklyn in 1933. She attended Cornell University to receive her undergraduate degree and graduated first in her class. Shortly thereafter she married Martin Ginsburg, who was a law student. The couple had their first child while they were both attending Harvard Law. However, Ruth pressed on balancing motherhood and classes while navigating the waters of being one of the few females in law school at the time. When Martin got a job offer in New York, she transferred to Columbia and finished her law degree there—once again graduating first in her class.

(Image sourced from Wonder Women of the Week Facebook: page https://www.facebook.com/wonderwomanoftheweek/)

Her Career

Despite graduating first in class, job offers were not knocking on her door. This was attributed to the fact that she was a woman in a field that was male-dominated at the time. She clerked for a U.S. district judge for a couple of years before entering the education field, first at Rutgers law school and second at Columbia, where she stayed for a combined total of 17 years. During this time, she had her first brush with the Supreme Court when she argued six cases before the bench while serving as the director of the Women’s Rights Project for the ACLU. She won five of these cases, continuing her crusade to make ways for equal opportunities for all women.

(Image sourced from Supreme Court of the United States website https://www.supremecourt.gov/about/justices.aspx)

Life as a Supreme Court Justice

This month Justice Ginsburg celebrates 25 years on the Supreme Court. She was appointed by President Clinton on August 10, 1993. She was only the second woman to serve on the court. Among numerous decisions in which she has played a part, two stand out. The first being the landmark decision in United States v. Virginia, where Ginsburg wrote the decision that stated that a state-funded institution (the Virginia Military Institute) could not refuse to enroll women. The second being her much-publicized opinion in Bush v. Gore, which was the deciding factor in the 2000 United States presidential election. The majority of the court sided with Bush, giving him the votes to win. Justice Ginsburg simply stated “I dissent.” At 85, she continues to serve on the court today.