By New York Natives Staff


Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Born: March 15, 1933, Brooklyn, New York

Occupation: Supreme Court Justice

Marital Status: Widow of Martin D. Ginsburg

Children: James Steven Ginsburg, Jane Ginsburg

Education: James Madison High School, Cornell University, Harvard University, and Columbia Law School


My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.

-Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a champion and pioneer for women’s rights. She was one of the first women to have a successful and respected career in law and only the second female justice to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Her influence has shaped some of the most important laws in our country.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn. Her mother, Cecelia Bader, was a significant force in her life. She pushed Ginsburg to pursue her education and helped Ginsburg establish herself as an independent, intelligent woman. Unfortunately, Cecelia would succumb to cancer before Ginsburg graduated from high school.

After Ginsburg graduated–first in her class– from Cornell University in 1954, she married Martin D. Ginsburg, a fellow law student. Ginsburg would give birth to a daughter, Jane, and take care of her alone when Martin was drafted into the military in that same year. Eventually Martin would be discharged, and the couple came back to Harvard where Ginsburg was enrolled.

Despite being only one of eight women in a class of 500, Ginsburg would succeed in the male-dominated world of law. She became the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.  However, Ginsburg would have to deal with another challenge: Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1956. Martin would go on to receive treatment and rehabilitate from the cancer, but Ginsburg had to take care of him and their daughter while continuing to go to class, and even took notes for Martin.

Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School after Martin received a job at a New York law firm.  Ginsburg was elected to the school’s law review and graduated in 1959. She clerked for U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri for three years, before teaching at Rutgers University Law School and Columbia. She was Columbia’s first female tenured professor. She also served as the director of the Women’s Rights of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970’s where she argued landmark cases on gender equality before the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She went to serve there until President Bill Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. Despite some questions on her beliefs, she was easily confirmed by the Senate, 96-3.

Ginsburg continued to lobby for gender equality while part of the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1996, Ginsburg wrote the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Virginia, which held that the state-supported Virginia Military Institute could not refuse to admit women.

Despite her husband, Martin, dying in 2010, Ginsburg continues to serve and shows no signs of retiring anytime soon. She continues to be a cautious, yet progressive voice on today’s Supreme Court.

Featured Image Courtesy of The Cut

Leave a Reply