Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Supreme Court Judge and Pop Culture Icon

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

With any and every challenging situation in her life, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has not let discrimination and prejeduice keep her from being one of the most successful lawyers in the U.S.; a Supreme Court Judge.

Personal Life

Ginsburg was born on March 15, 1933. Ginsburg was the second child of Nathan and Ceila Bader. When she was very young, her older sister died. She was very successful at James Madison High School, where they today have a courtroom dedicated in her honor. Her mother struggled with cancer throughout her high school years and died the day before her high school graduation. In 1954, she graduated from Cornell with a Bachelor's degree in government. She then went on to attend Harvard, where she was one of only 9 women in a class of 500. While in school, she had her daughter, Jane Ginsburg. At the same time, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. This meant that she took care of a baby, took notes for both her and her husband, wrote papers for both her and her husband, and handled a household. She also assisted with her husband's medical needs, and paid the bills. When her husband got a job in New York City, she transferred to Colombia. She was the first woman to be featured on two Law Review's. In 1999, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. During this time, she never missed a day on the bench. To add to all this, her husband, Martin Ginsburg, died 3 days after their 50th wedding anniversary. In 2009, she had surgery for pancreatic cancer and a tumor. She was released from the hospital after eight days, and back on the bench four days after that she was back on the bench. In November 2014, she had a stent placed in her right coronary artery after experiencing discomfort while training with her personal trainer. She was back on the bench 5 days later.


In 1960, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was denied a clerkship position for Justice Felix Frankfurter because of her gender. Soon after that, she was given a clerkship for Judge Edmund L. Palmieri. Palmieri worked for the U.S. District Court in Southern New York. For two years, she was a research associate, then associate director a Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure. To work on this project, she had to learn Swedish so that she could collaborate with Lund University in Sweden. Ginsburg was a law professor at Rutgers for nine years. She was one of the founding members of the Women's Rights Law Reporter. for eight years after she taught at Rutgers, she taught at Columbia. There she focused even more on women's rights and discrimination. She was the chief litigator for the Women's Rights Project, which she also co-founded. She argued famous cases like Reed v. Reed, Frontiero v. Richardson, and Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld. The result of these cases were laws surrounding gender discrimination and protecting women's rights. On April 14, 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S.. Court of Appeals for the District of Colombia Circuit. She took a seat formerly belonging to Harold Leventhal, where she served for thirteen years. On June 14, 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated Her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. The seat had been recently vacated by Justice Byron White. During her testimony for the confirmation hearings, she refused to answer questions about her personal views on most issues. She also refused to divulge how she would respond to certain hypothetical cases presented to the Supreme Court. On the Supreme Court, Ginsburg has become known as a liberal, outspoken, but cautious judge. She thinks before she makes decisions and still, to this day, supports and works for women's rights. She is one of only three women, she is joined by Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor