Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Riley Ehrenberg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a professor, lawyer and the second female justice as well as the first Jewish female justice of the Supreme Court. Born in March 1933, Ginsburg became a pioneer for gender equality; for this reason she is an important figure to remember not just during Women’s History Month, but all year round.

Despite living in a low-income neighborhood in Brooklyn, Ginsburg’s mother taught her about the value of education from a very young age. Because of this Ginsburg excelled throughout high school, and went on to graduate from Cornell University in 1954 at the top of her class. Years later Ginsburg and her husband Martin enrolled at Harvard, during this time she had to balance being a mother and being a law student. Being one of the only eight females in a class of five hundred, Ginsburg was often berated by deans and other students for “taking the place of a qualified male”. Instead of letting this stop her Ginsburg excelled academically and eventually became the first woman to be on the editorial staff of the Harvard Law Review. Another challenge arose when Martin contracted cancer in 1956, leaving Ginsburg to partly take on his studies as well as continue her own and take care of their daughter. After Martin’s recovery Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School where she graduated first of her class in 1959. 

Even with her outstanding academic achievements Ginsburg struggled to find work after graduation because of her gender. She found a job clerking for the U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri, she then went on to teach at Rutgers University Law School, eventually she landed a job at Columbia making her the school’s first female tenured professor. In the 1970s she served as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she argued cases on gender equality before the Supreme court. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She served there until 1933 when she was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. Ginsburg was a strong voice for gender equality, the rights of workers and the separation of church and state. 

After serving 27 years on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of pancreatic cancer on December 18, 2020. Up until her death Ginsburg was driven and a force to be reckoned with. Until the 2018 term, she didn’t miss a day of oral arguments, not even when she was undergoing chemotherapy or surgery, or the day after her husband died. Ginsburg spent her entire life fighting for gender equality and proving that abilities and intelligence aren’t determined by a person’s gender; even though she is gone, her legacy will be carried on by women whose lives she has changed through all her work.