Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg ( ; ; March 15, 1933September 18, 2020) was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an
associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States An associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States is any member of the Supreme Court of the United States other than the chief justice of the United States. The number of associate justices is eight, as set by the Judiciary Act of 18 ...
from 1993 until her death in 2020. She was nominated by President
Bill Clinton William Jefferson Clinton (Birth name, né Blythe III; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. He previously served as governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 ...

Bill Clinton
to replace retiring justice
Byron White Byron "Whizzer" Raymond White (June 8, 1917 April 15, 2002) was an American professional American football, football player and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court fr ...
, and at the time was generally viewed as a moderate consensus-builder. She eventually became part of the liberal wing of the Court as the Court shifted to the right over time. Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the Court, after
Sandra Day O'Connor Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is an American retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was both the first woman nominated and the ...

Sandra Day O'Connor
. During her tenure, Ginsburg wrote notable majority opinions, including '' United States v. Virginia''(1996), '' Olmstead v. L.C.''(1999), ''
Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc. ''Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc.'', 528 U.S. 167 (2000), was a Supreme Court of the United States, United States Supreme Court case that addressed the law regarding standing (law), standing to sue and mootness. ...
''(2000), and '' City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York''(2005). Ginsburg was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her older sister died when she was a baby, and her mother died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school. She earned her bachelor's degree at
Cornell University Cornell University is a private statutory land-grant research university based in Ithaca, New York. It is a member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, Cornell was founded with the intention to ...

Cornell University
and married
Martin D. Ginsburg Martin David Ginsburg (June 10, 1932 – June 27, 2010) was an American lawyer who specialized in tax law Tax law or revenue law is an area of legal study in which public or sanctioned authorities, such as federal, state and municipal gover ...
, becoming a mother before starting law school at Harvard, where she was one of the few women in her class. Ginsburg transferred to
Columbia Law School Columbia Law School (Columbia Law or CLS) is the Law school in the United States, law school of Columbia University, a Private university, private Ivy League university in New York City. Columbia Law is widely regarded as one of the most prestig ...
, where she graduated joint first in her class. During the early 1960s she worked with the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, learned Swedish, and co-authored a book with Swedish jurist Anders Bruzelius; her work in Sweden profoundly influenced her thinking on gender equality. She then became a professor at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School, teaching civil procedure as one of the few women in her field. Ginsburg spent much of her legal career as an advocate for
gender equality Gender equality, also known as sexual equality or equality of the sexes, is the state of equal ease of access to resources and opportunities regardless of gender, including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing d ...

gender equality
and
women's rights Women's rights are the rights and entitlements claimed for women and girls worldwide. They formed the basis for the women's rights movement in the 19th century and the feminist movements during the 20th and 21st centuries. In some countries, ...
, winning many arguments before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer attorney for the
American Civil Liberties Union The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1920 "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the United States Constitution, Constitution and L ...
and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsel in the 1970s. In 1980, President
Jimmy Carter James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, he previously served as th ...

Jimmy Carter
appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where she served until her appointment to the Supreme Court in 1993. Between O'Connor's retirement in 2006 and the appointment of
Sonia Sotomayor Sonia Maria Sotomayor (, ; born June 25, 1954) is an American lawyer and jurist who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was Sonia Sotomay ...

Sonia Sotomayor
in 2009, she was the only female justice on the Supreme Court. During that time, Ginsburg became more forceful with her dissents, notably in '' Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.''(2007). Ginsburg's dissenting opinion was credited with inspiring the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was signed into law by President
Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...

Barack Obama
in 2009, making it easier for employees to win pay discrimination claims. Ginsburg received attention in American popular culture for her passionate dissents in numerous cases, widely seen as reflecting paradigmatically liberal views of the law. She was dubbed "The Notorious R.B.G.", and she later embraced the moniker. Despite two bouts with cancer and public pleas from liberal law scholars, she decided not to retire in 2013 or 2014 when Democrats could appoint her successor. Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., on September 18, 2020, at the age of 87, from complications of
metastatic Metastasis is a pathogenic agent's spread from an initial or primary site to a different or secondary site within the host's body; the term is typically used when referring to metastasis by a cancer Cancer is a group of diseases involvin ...
pancreatic cancer Pancreatic cancer arises when cell (biology), cells in the pancreas, a glandular organ behind the stomach, begin to multiply out of control and form a Neoplasm, mass. These cancerous cells have the malignant, ability to invade other parts of t ...
. The vacancy created by her death was filled days later by
Amy Coney Barrett Amy Vivian Coney Barrett (born January 28, 1972) is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The fifth woman to serve on the court, she Amy Coney Barrett Su ...
, a
conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
.


Early life and education

Joan Ruth Bader was born on March 15, 1933, at Beth Moses Hospital in the
Brooklyn Brooklyn () is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. Kings County is the most populous Administrative divisions of New York (state)#County, county i ...
borough of New York City, the second daughter of Celia (née Amster) and Nathan Bader, who lived in the Flatbush neighborhood. Her father was a Jewish emigrant from
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, Ukraine, at that time part of the
Russian Empire The Russian Empire was an empire and the final period of the List of Russian monarchs, Russian monarchy from 1721 to 1917, ruling across large parts of Eurasia. It succeeded the Tsardom of Russia following the Treaty of Nystad, which ended th ...
, and her mother was born in New York to Jewish parents who came from
Kraków Kraków (), or Cracow, is the second-largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative provinces called Voivodeships of Pol ...
, Poland, at that time part of
Austria-Hungary Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire,, the Dual Monarchy, or Austria, was a constitutional monarchy and great power in Central Europe#Before World War I, Central Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed with t ...
. The Baders' elder daughter Marylin died of
meningitis Meningitis is Acute (medical), acute or Chronic (medical), chronic inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, collectively called the meninges. The most common symptoms are fever, headache, and neck stiffness. Ot ...
at age six. Joan, who was 14 months old when Marylin died, was known to the family as "Kiki", a nickname Marylin had given her for being "a kicky baby." When Joan started school, Celia discovered that her daughter's class had several other girls named Joan, so Celia suggested the teacher call her daughter by her second name, Ruth, to avoid confusion. Although not devout, the Bader family belonged to East Midwood Jewish Center, a
Conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
synagogue, where Ruth learned tenets of the Jewish faith and gained familiarity with the
Hebrew language Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
. Ruth was not allowed to have a bat mitzvah ceremony because of Orthodox restrictions on women reading from the Torah, which upset her. Starting as a camper from the age of four, she attended Camp Che-Na-Wah, a Jewish summer program at Lake Balfour near Minerva, New York, where she was later a camp counselor until the age of eighteen. Celia took an active role in her daughter's education, often taking her to the library. Celia had been a good student in her youth, graduating from high school at age 15, yet she could not further her own education because her family instead chose to send her brother to college. Celia wanted her daughter to get more education, which she thought would allow Ruth to become a high school history teacher. Ruth attended James Madison High School, whose law program later dedicated a courtroom in her honor. Celia struggled with cancer throughout Ruth's high school years and died the day before Ruth's high school graduation. Ruth Bader attended
Cornell University Cornell University is a private statutory land-grant research university based in Ithaca, New York. It is a member of the Ivy League. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, Cornell was founded with the intention to ...

Cornell University
in
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, and was a member of
Alpha Epsilon Phi Alpha Epsilon Phi ( or AEPhi) is a Fraternities and sororities in North America, sorority and one of the members of the National Panhellenic Conference, an umbrella organization overseeing 26 North American sororities. It was founded on Octobe ...
. While at Cornell, she met
Martin D. Ginsburg Martin David Ginsburg (June 10, 1932 – June 27, 2010) was an American lawyer who specialized in tax law Tax law or revenue law is an area of legal study in which public or sanctioned authorities, such as federal, state and municipal gover ...
at age 17. She graduated from Cornell with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government on June 23, 1954. While at Cornell, Bader studied under Russian-American novelist
Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (russian: link=no, Владимир Владимирович Набоков ; 2 July 1977), also known by the pen name Vladimir Sirin (), was a Russian-American novelist, poet, translator, and Entomology, entomo ...
, and she later identified Nabokov as a major influence on her development as a writer. She was a member of
Phi Beta Kappa The Phi Beta Kappa Society () is the oldest academic honor society in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, p ...
and the highest-ranking female student in her graduating class. Bader married Ginsburg a month after her graduation from Cornell. The couple moved to
Fort Sill, Oklahoma Fort Sill is a United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare, land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United States, U.S. uniformed se ...
, where Martin Ginsburg was stationed as a
Reserve Officers' Training Corps The Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC ( or )) is a group of college- and university-based officer training, officer-training programs for training commissioned officers of the United States Armed Forces. Overview While ROTC graduate offi ...
officer in the
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after his call-up to active duty. At age 21, Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked for the
Social Security Administration The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the Federal government of the United States, U.S. federal government that administers Social Security (United ...
office in Oklahoma, where she was demoted after becoming pregnant with her first child. She gave birth to a daughter in 1955. In the fall of 1956, Ruth Bader Ginsburg enrolled at
Harvard Law School Harvard Law School (Harvard Law or HLS) is the law school of Harvard University, a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts Massachusetts (Massachusett language, Massachusett: ''Muhsachuweesut assachusett writing syste ...
, where she was one of only 9 women in a class of about 500 men. The dean of Harvard Law, Erwin Griswold, reportedly invited all the female law students to dinner at his family home and asked the female law students, including Ginsburg, "Why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?" When her husband took a job in New York City, that same dean denied Ginsburg's request to complete her third year towards a Harvard law degree at
Columbia Law School Columbia Law School (Columbia Law or CLS) is the Law school in the United States, law school of Columbia University, a Private university, private Ivy League university in New York City. Columbia Law is widely regarded as one of the most prestig ...
, so Ginsburg transferred to Columbia and became the first woman to be on two major
law review A law review or law journal is a scholarly journal or publication that focuses on legal issues. A law review is a type of legal periodical. Law reviews are a source of research, imbedded with analyzed and referenced legal topics; they also pro ...
s: the ''
Harvard Law Review The ''Harvard Law Review'' is a law review published by an independent student group at Harvard Law School. According to the ''Journal Citation Reports'', the ''Harvard Law Review''s 2015 impact factor of 4.979 placed the journal first out of 143 ...
'' and ''
Columbia Law Review The ''Columbia Law Review'' is a law review edited and published by students at Columbia Law School. The journal publishes scholarly articles, essays, and student notes. It was established in 1901 by Joseph E. Corrigan and John M. Woolsey, who se ...
''. In 1959, she earned her law degree at Columbia and tied for first in her class. Toobin, Jeffrey (2007). '' The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court'', New York, Doubleday, p. 82.


Early career

At the start of her legal career, Ginsburg encountered difficulty in finding employment. In 1960, Supreme Court Justice
Felix Frankfurter Felix Frankfurter (November 15, 1882 – February 22, 1965) was an Austrian Americans, Austrian-American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1939 until 1962, during which period he was a noted ...
rejected Ginsburg for a clerkship because of her gender. He did so despite a strong recommendation from Albert Martin Sacks, who was a professor and later dean of Harvard Law School. Columbia law professor Gerald Gunther also pushed for Judge Edmund L. Palmieri of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to hire Ginsburg as a
law clerk A law clerk or a judicial clerk is a person, generally someone who provides direct counsel and assistance to a lawyer or judge by researching issues and drafting legal opinions for cases before the court. Judicial clerks often play significan ...
, threatening to never recommend another Columbia student to Palmieri if he did not give Ginsburg the opportunity and guaranteeing to provide the judge with a replacement clerk should Ginsburg not succeed. Later that year, Ginsburg began her clerkship for Judge Palmieri, and she held the position for two years.


Academia

From 1961 to 1963, Ginsburg was a research associate and then an associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, working alongside director Hans Smit; she learned Swedish to co-author a book with Anders Bruzelius on civil procedure in Sweden. Ginsburg conducted extensive research for her book at
Lund University Lund University ( sv, Lunds universitet) is a Public university, public research university in Sweden and one of northern Europe's oldest universities. The university is located in the city of Lund in the province of Scania, Sweden. It traces its r ...
in Sweden. Ginsburg's time in Sweden and her association with the Swedish Bruzelius family of jurists also influenced her thinking on gender equality. She was inspired when she observed the changes in Sweden, where women were 20 to 25 percent of all law students; one of the judges whom Ginsburg observed for her research was eight months pregnant and still working. Bruzelius' daughter, Norwegian supreme court justice and president of the Norwegian Association for Women's Rights, Karin M. Bruzelius, herself a law student when Ginsburg worked with her father, said that "by getting close to my family, Ruth realized that one could live in a completely different way, that women could have a different lifestyle and legal position than what they had in the United States." Ginsburg's first position as a professor was at Rutgers Law School in 1963. She was paid less than her male colleagues because, she was told, "your husband has a very good job." At the time Ginsburg entered academia, she was one of fewer than twenty female law professors in the United States. She was a professor of law at Rutgers from 1963 to 1972, teaching mainly
civil procedure Civil procedure is the body of law that sets out the rules and standards that court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law) ...
and receiving tenure in 1969. In 1970, she co-founded the ''
Women's Rights Law Reporter The ''Women's Rights Law Reporter'' is a Law review, journal of legal scholarship published by an independent student group at Rutgers School of Law—Newark. The journal was founded in 1970 by Rutgers law students working with Ruth Bader Ginsburg ...
'', the first
law journal A law review or law journal is a scholarly journal or publication that focuses on legal issues. A law review is a type of legal periodical. Law reviews are a source of research, imbedded with analyzed and referenced legal topics; they also pro ...
in the U.S. to focus exclusively on women's rights. From 1972 to 1980, she taught at Columbia Law School, where she became the first tenured woman and co-authored the first law school casebook on
sex discrimination Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on one's sex or gender. Sexism can affect anyone, but it primarily affects women and girls.There is a clear and broad consensus among academic scholars in multiple fields that sexism refers primaril ...
. She also spent a year as a fellow of the
Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) is an interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of multiple academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research proje ...
at
Stanford University Stanford University, officially Leland Stanford Junior University, is a Private university, private research university in Stanford, California. The campus occupies , among the largest in the United States, and enrolls over 17,000 students. S ...
from 1977 to 1978.


Litigation and advocacy

In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the
American Civil Liberties Union The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1920 "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the United States Constitution, Constitution and L ...
(ACLU), and in 1973, she became the Project's general counsel. The Women's Rights Project and related ACLU projects participated in more than 300 gender discrimination cases by 1974. As the director of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976, winning five. Rather than asking the Court to end all gender discrimination at once, Ginsburg charted a strategic course, taking aim at specific discriminatory statutes and building on each successive victory. She chose plaintiffs carefully, at times picking male plaintiffs to demonstrate that gender discrimination was harmful to both men and women. The laws Ginsburg targeted included those that on the surface appeared beneficial to women, but in fact reinforced the notion that women needed to be dependent on men. Her strategic advocacy extended to word choice, favoring the use of "gender" instead of "sex", after her secretary suggested the word "sex" would serve as a distraction to judges. She attained a reputation as a skilled oral advocate, and her work led directly to the end of gender discrimination in many areas of the law. Ginsburg volunteered to write the brief for '' Reed v. Reed'', , in which the Supreme Court extended the protections of the
Equal Protection Clause The Equal Protection Clause is part of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The clause, which took effect in 1868, provides "''nor shall any State ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal ...
of the Fourteenth Amendment to women. In 1972, she argued before the 10th Circuit in '' Moritz v. Commissioner'' on behalf of a man who had been denied a caregiver deduction because of his gender. As ''amicus'' she argued in '' Frontiero v. Richardson'', , which challenged a statute making it more difficult for a female service member (Frontiero) to claim an increased housing allowance for her husband than for a male service member seeking the same allowance for his wife. Ginsburg argued that the statute treated women as inferior, and the Supreme Court ruled 8–1 in Frontiero's favor. The court again ruled in Ginsburg's favor in '' Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld'', , where Ginsburg represented a widower denied survivor benefits under Social Security, which permitted widows but not widowers to collect special benefits while caring for minor children. She argued that the statute discriminated against male survivors of workers by denying them the same protection as their female counterparts. In 1973, the same year '' Roe v. Wade'' was decided, Ginsburg filed a federal case to challenge
involuntary sterilization Compulsory sterilization, also known as forced or coerced sterilization, is a government-mandated program to Involuntary treatment, involuntarily Sterilization (medicine), sterilize a specific group of people. Sterilization removes a person's ca ...
, suing members of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina on behalf of Nial Ruth Cox, a mother who had been coercively sterilized under North Carolina's Sterilization of Persons Mentally Defective program on penalty of her family losing welfare benefits. During a 2009 interview with Emily Bazelon of ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'', Ginsburg stated: "I had thought that at the time ''Roe'' was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of." Bazelon conducted a follow-up interview with Ginsburg in 2012 at a joint appearance at
Yale University Yale University is a Private university, private research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Established in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the List of Colonial Colleges, third-oldest institution of higher education in the United Sta ...
, where Ginsburg claimed her 2009 quote was vastly misinterpreted and clarified her stance. Ginsburg filed an
amicus brief An ''amicus curiae'' (; ) is an individual or organization who is not a Party (law), party to a legal case, but who is permitted to assist a court by offering information, expertise, or insight that has a bearing on the issues in the case. The ...
and sat with counsel at oral argument for '' Craig v. Boren'', , which challenged an Oklahoma statute that set different minimum drinking ages for men and women. For the first time, the court imposed what is known as intermediate scrutiny on laws discriminating based on gender, a heightened standard of Constitutional review. Her last case as an attorney before the Supreme Court was ''
Duren v. Missouri ''Duren v. Missouri'', 439 U.S. 357 (1979), was a Supreme Court of the United States, United States Supreme Court case related to the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Sixth Amendment. It challenged Missouri's law allowing gender- ...
'', , which challenged the validity of voluntary
jury duty Jury duty or jury service is service as a juror in a legal proceeding. Juror selection process The prosecutor and Defense (legal), defense can dismiss potential jurors for various reasons, which can vary from one state to another, and they can ...
for women, on the ground that participation in jury duty was a citizen's vital governmental service and therefore should not be optional for women. At the end of Ginsburg's oral argument, then-Associate Justice
William Rehnquist William Hubbs Rehnquist ( ; October 1, 1924 – September 3, 2005) was an American attorney and jurist who served on the Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. Supreme Court for 33 years, first as an Associate justice of the Supreme Court of ...
asked Ginsburg, "You won't settle for putting Susan B. Anthony on the new dollar, then?"Von Drehle, David (July 19, 1993)
"Redefining Fair With a Simple Careful Assault—Step-by-Step Strategy Produced Strides for Equal Protection"
''
The Washington Post ''The Washington Post'' (also known as the ''Post'' and, informally, ''WaPo'') is an American daily newspaper published in Washington, D.C. It is the most widely circulated newspaper within the Washington metropolitan area and has a large nati ...
''. Retrieved August 24, 2009.
Ginsburg said she considered responding, "We won't settle for tokens," but instead opted not to answer the question. Legal scholars and advocates credit Ginsburg's body of work with making significant legal advances for women under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. Taken together, Ginsburg's legal victories discouraged legislatures from treating women and men differently under the law. She continued to work on the ACLU's Women's Rights Project until her appointment to the Federal Bench in 1980. Later, colleague
Antonin Scalia Antonin Gregory Scalia (; March 11, 1936 – February 13, 2016) was an American jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death in 2016. He was described as the intellectua ...
praised Ginsburg's skills as an advocate. "She became the leading (and very successful) litigator on behalf of women's rights—the
Thurgood Marshall Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American civil rights lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States fro ...
of that cause, so to speak." This was a comparison that had first been made by former solicitor general Erwin Griswold who was also her former professor and dean at Harvard Law School, in a speech given in 1985.


U.S. Court of Appeals

In light of the mounting backlog in the federal judiciary, Congress passed the Omnibus Judgeship Act of 1978 increasing the number of federal judges by 117 in district courts and another 35 to be added to the circuit courts. The law placed an emphasis on ensuring that the judges included women and minority groups, a matter that was important to President
Jimmy Carter James Earl Carter Jr. (born October 1, 1924) is an American politician who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, he previously served as th ...

Jimmy Carter
who had been elected two years before. The bill also required that the nomination process consider the character and experience of the candidates. Ginsburg was considering a change in career as soon as Carter was elected. She was interviewed by the Department of Justice to become Solicitor General, the position she most desired, but knew that she and the African-American candidate who was interviewed the same day had little chance of being appointed by Attorney General
Griffin Bell Griffin Boyette Bell (October 31, 1918 – January 5, 2009) was the 72nd Attorney General of the United States, having served under President Jimmy Carter. Previously, he was a United States federal judge, U.S. circuit judge of the United States C ...
. At the time, Ginsburg was a fellow at Stanford University where she was working on a written account of her work in litigation and advocacy for equal rights. Her husband was a visiting professor at
Stanford Law School Stanford Law School (Stanford Law or SLS) is the law school of Stanford University, a private research university near Palo Alto, California. Established in 1893, it is regarded as one of the most prestigious law schools in the world. Stanfor ...
and was ready to leave his firm, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, for a tenured position. He was at the same time working hard to promote a possible judgeship for his wife. In January 1979, she filled out the questionnaire for possible nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and another for the District of Columbia Circuit. Ginsburg was nominated by President Carter on April 14, 1980, to a seat on the DC Circuit vacated by Judge
Harold Leventhal Harold Leventhal (May 24, 1919 – October 4, 2005) was an American music manager. He died in 2005 at the age of 86. Leventhal's career began as a song plugger for Irving Berlin and then Benny Goodman. While working for Goodman, he connected ...
upon his death. She was confirmed by the
United States Senate The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives being the Lower house, lower chamber. Together they compose the national Bica ...
on June 18, 1980, and received her commission later that day. During her time as a judge on the DC Circuit, Ginsburg often found consensus with her colleagues including conservatives Robert H. Bork and
Antonin Scalia Antonin Gregory Scalia (; March 11, 1936 – February 13, 2016) was an American jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death in 2016. He was described as the intellectua ...
. Her time on the court earned her a reputation as a "cautious jurist" and a moderate. Her service ended on August 9, 1993, due to her elevation to the United States Supreme Court, and she was replaced by Judge David S. Tatel.


Supreme Court


Nomination and confirmation

President
Bill Clinton William Jefferson Clinton (Birth name, né Blythe III; born August 19, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 42nd president of the United States from 1993 to 2001. He previously served as governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 ...

Bill Clinton
nominated Ginsburg as an associate justice of the Supreme Court on June 22, 1993, to fill the seat vacated by retiring justice
Byron White Byron "Whizzer" Raymond White (June 8, 1917 April 15, 2002) was an American professional American football, football player and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court fr ...
. She was recommended to Clinton by then–U.S.
attorney general In most common law jurisdictions, the attorney general or attorney-general (sometimes abbreviated AG or Atty.-Gen) is the main legal advisor to the government. The plural is attorneys general. In some jurisdictions, attorneys general also have exec ...
Janet Reno Janet Wood Reno (July 21, 1938 – November 7, 2016) was an American lawyer who served as the 78th United States Attorney General, United States attorney general. She held the position from 1993 to 2001, making her the second-longest serving a ...
, after a suggestion by Utah Republican senator
Orrin Hatch Orrin Grant Hatch (March 22, 1934 – April 23, 2022) was an American attorney and politician who served as a United States senator from Utah from 1977 to 2019. Hatch's 42-year Senate tenure made him the List of members of the United States Con ...
. At the time of her nomination, Ginsburg was viewed as having been a moderate and a consensus-builder in her time on the appeals court. Clinton was reportedly looking to increase the Court's diversity, which Ginsburg did as the first Jewish justice since the 1969 resignation of Justice
Abe Fortas Abraham Fortas (June 19, 1910 – April 5, 1982) was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1965 to 1969. Born ...
. She was the second female and the first Jewish female justice of the Supreme Court. She eventually became the longest-serving Jewish justice. The
American Bar Association The American Bar Association (ABA) is a voluntary association, voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. Founded in 1878, the ABA's most important stated activities ar ...
's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary rated Ginsburg as "well qualified", its highest rating for a prospective justice. During her testimony before the
Senate Judiciary Committee The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, informally the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a Standing committee (United States Congress), standing committee of 22 U.S. senators whose role is to oversee the United States Department of Ju ...
as part of the confirmation hearings, Ginsburg refused to answer questions about her view on the constitutionality of some issues such as the
death penalty Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the State (polity), state-sanctioned practice of deliberately killing a person as a punishment for an actual or supposed crime, usually following an authorized, rule-governed process to ...
as it was an issue she might have to vote on if it came before the Court. At the same time, Ginsburg did answer questions about some potentially controversial issues. For instance, she affirmed her belief in a constitutional right to privacy and explained at some length her personal judicial philosophy and thoughts regarding gender equality. Ginsburg was more forthright in discussing her views on topics about which she had previously written. The
United States Senate The United States Senate is the Upper house, upper chamber of the United States Congress, with the United States House of Representatives, House of Representatives being the Lower house, lower chamber. Together they compose the national Bica ...
confirmed her by a 96–3 vote on August 3, 1993. She received her commission on August 5, 1993 and took her judicial oath on August 10, 1993. Ginsburg's name was later invoked during the confirmation process of
John Roberts John Glover Roberts Jr. (born January 27, 1955) is an American lawyer and jurist who has served as the 17th Chief Justice of the United States, chief justice of the United States since 2005. Roberts has authored the majority opinion in sever ...
. Ginsburg was not the first nominee to avoid answering certain specific questions before Congress, and as a young attorney in 1981 Roberts had advised against Supreme Court nominees' giving specific responses. Nevertheless, some conservative commentators and senators invoked the phrase "Ginsburg precedent" to defend his demurrers. In a September 28, 2005, speech at
Wake Forest University Wake Forest University is a private research university A research university or a research-intensive university is a university that is committed to research as a central part of its mission. They are the most important sites at which Kn ...
, Ginsburg said Roberts's refusal to answer questions during his Senate confirmation hearings on some cases was "unquestionably right".


Supreme Court tenure

Ginsburg characterized her performance on the Court as a cautious approach to adjudication. She argued in a speech shortly before her nomination to the Court that " asured motions seem to me right, in the main, for constitutional as well as common law adjudication. Doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped, experience teaches, may prove unstable." Legal scholar
Cass Sunstein Cass Robert Sunstein (born September 21, 1954) is an American legal scholar known for his studies of constitutional law Constitutional law is a body of law which defines the role, powers, and structure of different entities within a State (pol ...
characterized Ginsburg as a "rational minimalist", a jurist who seeks to build cautiously on precedent rather than pushing the Constitution towards her own vision. The retirement of Justice
Sandra Day O'Connor Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is an American retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was both the first woman nominated and the ...

Sandra Day O'Connor
in 2006 left Ginsburg as the only woman on the Court.
Linda Greenhouse Linda Joyce Greenhouse (born January 9, 1947) is an American legal journalist who is the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph M. Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who covered ...
of ''
The New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'' referred to the subsequent 2006–2007 term of the Court as "the time when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg found her voice, and used it". The term also marked the first time in Ginsburg's history with the Court where she read multiple dissents from the bench, a tactic employed to signal more intense disagreement with the majority. With the retirement of Justice
John Paul Stevens John Paul Stevens (April 20, 1920 – July 16, 2019) was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1975 to 2010. At the time of his retirement, he was the second-oldes ...
, Ginsburg became the senior member of what was sometimes referred to as the Court's "liberal wing". When the Court split 5–4 along ideological lines and the liberal justices were in the minority, Ginsburg often had the authority to assign authorship of the
dissenting opinion A dissenting opinion (or dissent) is an Legal opinion, opinion in a legal case in certain legal systems written by one or more judges expressing disagreement with the majority opinion of the court which gives rise to its judgment. Dissenting opi ...
because of her seniority. Ginsburg was a proponent of the liberal dissenters speaking "with one voice" and, where practicable, presenting a unified approach to which all the dissenting justices can agree. During Ginsburg's entire Supreme Court tenure from 1993 to 2020, she only hired one African-American clerk ( Paul J. Watford). During her 13 years on the
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (in case citations, D.C. Cir.) is one of the thirteen United States Courts of Appeals. It has the smallest geographical jurisdiction of any of the U.S. federal appellate cou ...
, she never hired an African-American clerk, intern, or secretary. The lack of diversity was briefly an issue during her 1993 confirmation hearing. When this issue was raised by the
Senate Judiciary Committee The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, informally the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a Standing committee (United States Congress), standing committee of 22 U.S. senators whose role is to oversee the United States Department of Ju ...
, Ginsburg stated that "If you confirm me for this job, my attractiveness to black candidates is going to improve." This issue received renewed attention after more than a hundred of her former legal clerks served as pallbearers during her
funeral A funeral is a ceremony connected with the Disposal of human corpses, final disposition of a corpse, such as a burial or cremation, with the attendant observances. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture ...
.


Gender discrimination

Ginsburg authored the Court's opinion in '' United States v. Virginia'', , which struck down the
Virginia Military Institute Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is a Public university, public Senior Military College, senior military college in Lexington, Virginia. It was founded in 1839 as America's first state military college and is the oldest public senior military col ...
's (VMI) male-only admissions policy as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. For Ginsburg, a state actor could not use gender to deny women equal protection; therefore VMI must allow women the opportunity to attend VMI with its unique educational methods. Ginsburg emphasized that the government must show an "exceedingly persuasive justification" to use a classification based on sex. VMI proposed a separate institute for women, but Ginsburg found this solution reminiscent of the effort by Texas decades earlier to preserve the University of Texas Law School for Whites by establishing a separate school for Blacks. Ginsburg dissented in the Court's decision on '' Ledbetter v. Goodyear'', , in which plaintiff Lilly Ledbetter sued her employer, claiming pay discrimination based on her gender, in violation of TitleVII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 The Civil Rights Act of 1964 () is a landmark civil rights and United States labor law, labor law in the United States that outlaws discrimination based on Race (human categorization), race, Person of color, color, religion, sex, and nationa ...
. In a 5–4 decision, the majority interpreted the
statute of limitations A statute of limitations, known in civil law (legal system), civil law systems as a prescriptive period, is a law passed by a legislature, legislative body to set the maximum time after an event within which legal proceedings may be initiated. ("T ...
as starting to run at the time of every pay period, even if a woman did not know she was being paid less than her male colleague until later. Ginsburg found the result absurd, pointing out that women often do not know they are being paid less, and therefore it was unfair to expect them to act at the time of each paycheck. She also called attention to the reluctance women may have in male-dominated fields to making waves by filing lawsuits over small amounts, choosing instead to wait until the disparity accumulates. As part of her dissent, Ginsburg called on Congress to amend TitleVII to undo the Court's decision with legislation. Following the election of
President Barack Obama Barack Hussein Obama II ( ; born August 4, 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party, Obama was the first Af ...
in 2008, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for employees to win pay discrimination claims, became law. Ginsburg was credited with helping to inspire the law.


Abortion rights

Ginsburg discussed her views on abortion and gender equality in a 2009 ''
New York Times ''The New York Times'' (''the Times'', ''NYT'', or the Gray Lady) is a daily newspaper based in New York City with a worldwide readership reported in 2020 to comprise a declining 840,000 paid print subscribers, and a growing 6 million paid d ...
'' interview, in which she said, " e basic thing is that the government has no business making that choice for a woman." Although Ginsburg consistently supported
abortion rights Abortion-rights movements, also referred to as pro-choice Abortion-rights movements, also referred to as Pro-choice (term), pro-choice movements, advocate for the right to have Abortion law, legal access to induced abortion services includ ...
and joined in the Court's opinion striking down Nebraska's
partial-birth abortion Intact dilation and extraction (D&X, IDX, or intact D&E) is a surgical procedure that removes an intact fetus from the uterus. The procedure is used both after miscarriages and for abortions in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. In U ...
law in '' Stenberg v. Carhart'', , on the 40th anniversary of the Court's ruling in '' Roe v. Wade'', , she criticized the decision in ''Roe'' as terminating a nascent democratic movement to liberalize abortion laws which might have built a more durable consensus in support of abortion rights. Ginsburg was in the minority for '' Gonzales v. Carhart'', , a 5–4 decision upholding restrictions on partial birth abortion. In her dissent, Ginsburg opposed the majority's decision to defer to legislative findings that the procedure was not safe for women. Ginsburg focused her ire on the way Congress reached its findings and with their veracity. Joining the majority for '' Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt'', , a case which struck down parts of a 2013 Texas law regulating abortion providers, Ginsburg also authored a short concurring opinion which was even more critical of the legislation at issue. She asserted the legislation was not aimed at protecting women's health, as Texas had said, but rather to impede women's access to abortions.


Search and seizure

Although Ginsburg did not author the majority opinion, she was credited with influencing her colleagues on '' Safford Unified School District v. Redding'', , which held that a school went too far in ordering a 13-year-old female student to strip to her bra and underpants so female officials could search for drugs. In an interview published prior to the Court's decision, Ginsburg shared her view that some of her colleagues did not fully appreciate the effect of a strip search on a 13-year-old girl. As she said, "They have never been a 13-year-old girl." In an 8–1 decision, the Court agreed that the school's search violated the Fourth Amendment and allowed the student's lawsuit against the school to go forward. Only Ginsburg and Stevens would have allowed the student to sue individual school officials as well. In '' Herring v. United States'', , Ginsburg dissented from the Court's decision not to suppress evidence due to a police officer's failure to update a computer system. In contrast to Roberts's emphasis on suppression as a means to deter police misconduct, Ginsburg took a more robust view on the use of suppression as a remedy for a violation of a defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. Ginsburg viewed suppression as a way to prevent the government from profiting from mistakes, and therefore as a remedy to preserve judicial integrity and respect civil rights. She also rejected Roberts's assertion that suppression would not deter mistakes, contending making police pay a high price for mistakes would encourage them to take greater care.


International law

Ginsburg advocated the use of foreign law and norms to shape U.S. law in judicial opinions, a view rejected by some of her conservative colleagues. Ginsburg supported using foreign interpretations of law for persuasive value and possible wisdom, not as binding precedent. Ginsburg expressed the view that consulting international law is a well-ingrained tradition in American law, counting John Henry Wigmore and President
John Adams John Adams (October 30, 1735 – July 4, 1826) was an American statesman, attorney, diplomat, writer, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the second president of the United States from 1797 to 1801. Befor ...
as internationalists. Ginsburg's own reliance on international law dated back to her time as an attorney; in her first argument before the Court, ''Reed v. Reed'', 404 U.S. 71 (1971), she cited two German cases. In her concurring opinion in '' Grutter v. Bollinger'', 539 U.S. 306 (2003), a decision upholding Michigan Law School's affirmative action admissions policy, Ginsburg noted there was accord between the notion that affirmative action admissions policies would have an end point and agrees with international treaties designed to combat racial and gender-based discrimination.


Voting rights and affirmative action

In 2013, Ginsburg dissented in '' Shelby County v. Holder'', in which the Court held unconstitutional the part of the
Voting Rights Act of 1965 The suffrage, Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a landmark piece of Federal government of the United States, federal legislation in the United States that prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It was signed into law by President of the United ...
requiring federal preclearance before changing voting practices. Ginsburg wrote, "Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet." Besides ''Grutter'', Ginsburg wrote in favor of affirmative action in her dissent in '' Gratz v. Bollinger'' (2003), in which the Court ruled an affirmative action policy unconstitutional because it was not narrowly tailored to the state's interest in diversity. She argued that "government decisionmakers may properly distinguish between policies of exclusion and inclusion...Actions designed to burden groups long denied full citizenship stature are not sensibly ranked with measures taken to hasten the day when entrenched discrimination and its after effects have been extirpated."


Native Americans

In 1997, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in '' Strate v. A-1 Contractors'' against tribal jurisdiction over tribal-owned land in a reservation. The case involved a nonmember who caused a car crash in the
Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation The Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (MHA Nation), also known as the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan The Mandan are a Plains Indians, Native American tribe of the Great Plains who have lived for centuries primarily in what is now North Dako ...
. Ginsburg reasoned that the state right-of-way on which the crash occurred rendered the tribal-owned land equivalent to non-Indian land. She then considered the rule set in '' Montana v. United States'', which allows tribes to regulate the activities of nonmembers who have a relationship with the tribe. Ginsburg noted that the driver's employer did have a relationship with the tribe, but she reasoned that the tribe could not regulate their activities because the victim had no relationship to the tribe. Ginsburg concluded that although "those who drive carelessly on a public highway running through a reservation endanger all in the vicinity, and surely jeopardize the safety of tribal members", having a nonmember go before an "unfamiliar court" was "not crucial to the political integrity, the economic security, or the health or welfare of the Three Affiliated Tribes" (internal quotations and brackets omitted). The decision, by a unanimous Court, was generally criticized by scholars of Indian law, such as
David Getches David Harding Getches () was Dean (education), dean and Raphael J. Moses Professor of Natural Resources Law at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, Colorado. He taught and wrote on water law, public land law, environmental law, and ...
and Frank Pommersheim. Later in 2005, Ginsburg cited the doctrine of discovery in the majority opinion of '' City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York'' and concluded that the
Oneida Indian Nation The Oneida Indian Nation (OIN) or Oneida Nation is a federally recognized tribe of Oneida people in the United States. The tribe is headquartered in Verona, New York (state), New York, where the tribe originated and held its historic territory lo ...
could not revive its ancient sovereignty over its historic land. The discovery doctrine has been used to grant ownership of Native American lands to colonial governments. The Oneida had lived in towns, grew extensive crops, and maintained trade routes to the Gulf of Mexico. In her opinion for the Court, Ginsburg reasoned that the historic Oneida land had been "converted from wilderness" ever since it was dislodged from the Oneidas' possession. She also reasoned that "the longstanding, distinctly non-Indian character of the area and its inhabitants" and "the regulatory authority constantly exercised by New York State and its counties and towns" justified the ruling. Ginsburg also invoked,
sua sponte In law, ''sua sponte'' (Latin: "of his, her, its or their own accord") or ''suo motu'' ("on its own motion") describes an act of authority taken without formal prompting from another Party (law), party. The term is usually applied to actions by a j ...
, the doctrine of laches, reasoning that the Oneidas took a "long delay in seeking judicial relief". She also reasoned that the dispossession of the Oneidas' land was "ancient". Lower courts later relied on ''Sherrill'' as precedent to extinguish Native American land claims, notably in '' Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Pataki''. Less than a year after ''Sherrill'', Ginsburg offered a starkly contrasting approach to Native American law. In December 2005, Ginsburg dissented in '' Wagnon v. Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation'', arguing that a state tax on fuel sold to
Potawatomi The Potawatomi , also spelled Pottawatomi and Pottawatomie (among Potawatomi ethnonyms, many variations), are a Native American people of the western Great Lakes region, upper Mississippi River and Great Plains. They traditionally speak the Pota ...
retailers would impermissibly nullify the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation's own tax authority. In 2008, when Ginsburg's precedent in ''Strate'' was used in '' Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co.'', she dissented in part and argued that the tribal court of the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation had jurisdiction over the case. In 2020, Ginsburg joined the ruling of '' McGirt v. Oklahoma'', which affirmed Native American jurisdictions over reservations in much of Oklahoma.


Other notable majority opinions

In 1999, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in '' Olmstead v. L.C.,'' in which the Court ruled that mental illness is a form of disability covered under the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 or ADA () is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Disability in the United States, Americans with disabilities ...
. In 2000, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in ''
Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc. ''Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc.'', 528 U.S. 167 (2000), was a Supreme Court of the United States, United States Supreme Court case that addressed the law regarding standing (law), standing to sue and mootness. ...
'', in which the Court held that residents have standing to seek fines for an industrial polluter that affected their interests and that is able to continue doing so.


Decision not to retire under Obama

When
John Paul Stevens John Paul Stevens (April 20, 1920 – July 16, 2019) was an American lawyer and jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1975 to 2010. At the time of his retirement, he was the second-oldes ...
retired in 2010, Ginsburg became the oldest justice on the court at age 77. Despite rumors that she would retire because of advancing age, poor health, and the death of her husband, she denied she was planning to step down. In an interview in August 2010, Ginsburg said her work on the Court was helping her cope with the death of her husband. She also expressed a wish to emulate Justice
Louis Brandeis Louis Dembitz Brandeis (; November 13, 1856 – October 5, 1941) was an American lawyer and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States from 1916 to 1939. Starti ...
's service of nearly 23years, which she achieved in April 2016. Several times during the
presidency of Barack Obama Barack Obama's tenure as the List of presidents of the United States, 44th president of the United States began with First inauguration of Barack Obama, his first inauguration on January 20, 2009, and ended on January 20, 2017. A Democratic Pa ...
, progressive attorneys and activists called for Ginsburg to retire so that Obama could appoint a like-minded successor, particularly while the Democratic Party held control of the U.S. Senate. Ginsburg reaffirmed her wish to remain a justice as long as she was mentally sharp enough to perform her duties. In 2013, Obama invited her to the White House when it seemed likely that Democrats would lose control of the Senate, but she again refused to step down. She opined that Republicans would use the judicial filibuster to prevent Obama from appointing a jurist like herself. She stated that she had a new model to emulate in her former colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired at the age of 90 after nearly 35 years on the bench.Biskupic, Joan
Exclusive: Supreme Court's Ginsburg vows to resist pressure to retire
,
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, July 4, 2013.
Some believed that, in the lead-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Ginsburg was waiting for candidate Hillary Clinton to beat candidate Donald Trump before retiring, because Clinton would nominate a more liberal successor for her than Obama would. After Trump's victory in 2016 and the election of a Republican Senate, she would have had to wait until the 2020 election for a Democrat to be president, but died in office in September 2020 at age 87.


Other activities

At his request, Ginsburg administered the
oath of office An oath of office is an oath Traditionally an oath (from Anglo-Saxon ', also called plight) is either a statement of fact or a promise taken by a sacrality as a sign of verity. A common legal substitute for those who conscientiously obje ...
to Vice President
Al Gore Albert Arnold Gore Jr. (born March 31, 1948) is an American politician, businessman, and environmentalist who served as the 45th vice president of the United States from 1993 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. Gore was the Democratic Part ...
for a second term during the second inauguration of Bill Clinton on January 20, 1997. She was the third woman to administer an inaugural oath of office. Ginsburg is believed to have been the first Supreme Court justice to officiate at a same-sex wedding, performing the August 31, 2013, ceremony of
Kennedy Center The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (formally known as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Center for the Performing Arts, and commonly referred to as the Kennedy Center) is the United States National Cultural Center, located on the Potom ...
president Michael Kaiser and John Roberts, a government economist. Earlier that summer, the Court had bolstered same-sex marriage rights in two separate cases. Ginsburg believed the issue being settled led same-sex couples to ask her to officiate as there was no longer the fear of compromising rulings on the issue. The Supreme Court bar formerly inscribed its certificates " in the year of our Lord", which some
Orthodox Jews Orthodox Judaism is the collective term for the traditionalist and theologically conservative branches of contemporary Judaism. Jewish theology, Theologically, it is chiefly defined by regarding the Torah, both Torah, Written and Oral Torah, Or ...
opposed, and asked Ginsburg to object to. She did so, and due to her objection, Supreme Court bar members have since been given other choices of how to inscribe the year on their certificates. Despite their ideological differences, Ginsburg considered Antonin Scalia her closest colleague on the Court. The two justices often dined together and attended the opera. In addition to befriending modern composers, including
Tobias Picker Tobias Picker (born July 18, 1954) is an American composer, artistic director, and pianist, noted for his orchestral works ''Old and Lost Rivers'', ''Keys To The City (orchestral work), Keys To The City'', and ''The Encantadas (orchestral work), ...
, in her spare time, Ginsburg appeared in several operas in non-speaking
supernumerary Supernumerary means "exceeding the usual number". Supernumerary may also refer to: * Supernumerary actor, a performer in a film, television show, or stage production who has no role or purpose other than to appear in the background, more commonl ...
roles such as ''
Die Fledermaus ' (, ''The Bat, Flittermouse'' or ''The Bat'', sometimes called ''The Revenge of the Bat'') is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée, which premiered in 1874. Background The original ...
'' (2003) and ''
Ariadne auf Naxos (''Ariadne Ariadne (; grc-gre, Ἀριάδνη; la, Ariadne) was a Cretan princess in Greek mythology. She was mostly associated with mazes and labyrinths because of her involvement in the myths of the Minotaur and Theseus. She is best kn ...
'' (1994 and 2009 with Scalia), and spoke lines penned by herself in '' The Daughter of the Regiment'' (2016). In January 2012, Ginsburg went to Egypt for four days of discussions with judges, law school faculty, law school students, and legal experts. In an interview with
Al Hayat TV Alhayat TV, also known as Life TV ( ar, قناة الحياة), is an evangelicalism, evangelical Christianity, Christian Arabic language, Arabic-language television channel that airs in countries in North Africa, West Asia, the Middle East, Unit ...
, she said the first requirement of a new constitution should be that it would "safeguard basic fundamental human rights like our
First Amendment First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most important performance that is ever recorded and officially verified in a specific skill, ...
". Asked if Egypt should model its new constitution on those of other nations, she said Egypt should be "aided by all Constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World WarII", and cited the United States Constitution and
Constitution of South Africa The Constitution of South Africa is the supreme law Law is a set of rules that are created and are law enforcement, enforceable by social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior,Robertson, ''Crimes against humanity'', 90. wit ...
as documents she might look to if drafting a new constitution. She said the U.S. was fortunate to have a constitution authored by "very wise" men but said that in the 1780s, no women were able to participate directly in the process, and slavery still existed in the U.S. During three interviews in July 2016, Ginsburg criticized presumptive Republican presidential nominee
Donald Trump Donald John Trump (born June 14, 1946) is an American politician, media personality, and businessman who served as the 45th president of the United States from 2017 to 2021. Trump graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pe ...
, telling ''The New York Times'' and the
Associated Press The Associated Press (AP) is an American Nonprofit organization, non-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. It produces news reports that are distributed to ...
that she did not want to think about the possibility of a
Trump presidency Donald Trump's tenure as the List of presidents of the United States, 45th president of the United States began with Inauguration of Donald Trump, his inauguration on January 20, 2017, and ended on January 20, 2021. Trump, a Republican Party ...
. She joked that she might consider moving to New Zealand. She later apologized for commenting on the presumptive Republican nominee, calling her remarks "ill advised". Ginsburg's first book, '' My Own Words'', was published by
Simon & Schuster Simon & Schuster () is an American publishing company and a subsidiary of Paramount Global. It was founded in New York City on January 2, 1924 by Richard L. Simon and M. Lincoln Schuster. As of 2016, Simon & Schuster was the third largest publi ...
on October 4, 2016. The book debuted on The ''New York Times'' Best Seller List for hardcover nonfiction at No.12. While promoting her book in October 2016 during an interview with
Katie Couric Katherine Anne Couric ( ; born January 7, 1957) is an American journalist and presenter. She is founder of Katie Couric Media, a multimedia news and production company. She also publishes a daily newsletter, ''Wake Up Call''. From 2013 to 2017, ...
, Ginsburg responded to a question about
Colin Kaepernick Colin Rand Kaepernick ( ; born November 3, 1987) is an American civil rights activist and American football, football quarterback who is a free agent. He played six seasons for the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League (NFL). In ...
choosing not to stand for the
national anthem A national anthem is a patriotic musical composition symbolizing and evoking eulogies of the history and traditions of a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state (polity), state, nation, or other polity, pol ...
at sporting events by calling the protest "really dumb". She later apologized for her criticism calling her earlier comments "inappropriately dismissive and harsh" and noting she had not been familiar with the incident and should have declined to respond to the question. In 2021, Couric revealed that she had edited out some statements by Ginsburg in their interview; Ginsburg said that athletes who protested by not standing were showing "contempt for a government that has made it possible for their parents and grandparents to live a decent life … which they probably could not have lived in the places they came from." In 2017, Ginsburg gave the keynote address to a Georgetown University symposium on governmental reform. She spoke on the need for improving the confirmation process, "recall ngthe 'collegiality' and 'civility' of her own nomination and confirmation..." In 2018, Ginsburg expressed her support for the
Me Too movement #MeToo is a social movement against sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and rape culture, in which people publicize their experiences of sexual abuse or sexual harassment. The phrase "Me Too" was initially used in this context on social media in ...
, which encourages women to speak up about their experiences with
sexual harassment Sexual harassment is a type of harassment involving the use of explicit or implicit sexual overtones, including the unwelcome and inappropriate promises of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. Sexual harassment includes a range of actions fro ...
. She told an audience, "It's about time. For so long women were silent, thinking there was nothing you could do about it, but now the law is on the side of women, or men, who encounter harassment and that's a good thing." She also reflected on her own experiences with gender discrimination and sexual harassment, including a time when a chemistry professor at Cornell unsuccessfully attempted to trade her exam answers for sex.


Personal life

A few days after Ruth Bader graduated from Cornell, she married
Martin D. Ginsburg Martin David Ginsburg (June 10, 1932 – June 27, 2010) was an American lawyer who specialized in tax law Tax law or revenue law is an area of legal study in which public or sanctioned authorities, such as federal, state and municipal gover ...
, who later became an internationally prominent tax attorney practicing at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Upon Ruth Bader Ginsburg's accession to the D.C. Circuit, the couple moved from New York City to Washington, D.C., where Martin became a professor of law at
Georgetown University Law Center The Georgetown University Law Center (Georgetown Law) is the Law school in the United States, law school of Georgetown University, a Private university, private research university in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1870 and is the larges ...
. The couple's daughter, Jane C. Ginsburg (born 1955), is a professor at Columbia Law School. Their son, James Steven Ginsburg (born 1965), is the founder and president of Cedille Records, a classical music recording company based in Chicago, Illinois. Martin and Ruth had four grandchildren. After the birth of their daughter, Martin was diagnosed with
testicular cancer Testicular cancer is cancer that develops in the testicles, a part of the male reproductive system. Symptoms may include a lump in the testicle, or swelling or pain in the scrotum. Treatment may result in infertility. Risk factors include ...
. During this period, Ruth attended class and took notes for both of them, typing her husband's dictated papers and caring for their daughter and her sick husband. During this period, she also made the ''Harvard Law Review''. Martin died of complications from metastatic cancer on June 27, 2010, four days after their 56th wedding anniversary. They spoke publicly of being in a shared earning/shared parenting marriage including in a speech Martin wrote and had intended to give before his death that Ruth delivered posthumously. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a non-observant Jew, attributing this to gender inequality in Jewish prayer ritual and relating it to her mother's death. However, she said she might have felt differently if she were younger, and she was pleased that
Reform Reform ( lat, reformo) means the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt, unsatisfactory, etc. The use of the word in this way emerges in the late 18th century and is believed to originate from Christopher Wyvill#The Yorkshire Associati ...
and Conservative Judaism were becoming more
egalitarian Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all hum ...
in this regard. In March 2015, Ginsburg and Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt released "The Heroic and Visionary Women of
Passover Passover, also called Pesach (; ), is a major Jewish holidays, Jewish holiday that celebrates the The Exodus, Biblical story of the Israelites escape from slavery in Ancient Egypt, Egypt, which occurs on the 15th day of the Hebrew calendar, He ...
", an essay highlighting the roles of five key women in the saga. The text states, "These women had a vision leading out of the darkness shrouding their world. They were women of action, prepared to defy authority to make their vision a reality bathed in the light of the day..." In addition, she decorated her chambers with an artist's rendering of the Hebrew phrase from
Deuteronomy Deuteronomy ( grc, Δευτερονόμιον, Deuteronómion, second law) is the fifth and last book of the Torah (in Judaism), where it is called (Hebrew: hbo, , Dəḇārīm, hewords f Moses label=none) and the fifth book of the Chr ...
, "''Zedek, zedek, tirdof,''" ("Justice, justice shall you pursue") as a reminder of her heritage and professional responsibility. Ginsburg had a collection of lace jabots from around the world. She said in 2014 she had a particular jabot she wore when issuing her dissents (black with gold embroidery and faceted stones) as well as another she wore when issuing majority opinions (crocheted yellow and cream with crystals), which was a gift from her law clerks. Her favorite jabot (woven with white beads) was from
Cape Town Cape Town ( af, Kaapstad; , xh, iKapa) is one of South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the Southern Africa, southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by of coastline that stretch ...
, South Africa.


Health

In 1999, Ginsburg was diagnosed with
colon cancer Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as bowel cancer, colon cancer, or rectal cancer, is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine). Signs and symptoms may include blood in the stool, a change in bow ...
, the first of her five bouts with cancer. She underwent surgery followed by
chemotherapy Chemotherapy (often abbreviated to chemo and sometimes CTX or CTx) is a type of cancer treatment that uses one or more anti-cancer drugs (list of chemotherapeutic agents, chemotherapeutic agents or alkylating agents) as part of a standardized ...
and
radiation therapy Radiation therapy or radiotherapy, often abbreviated RT, RTx, or XRT, is a therapy using ionizing radiation, generally provided as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells and normally delivered by a linear accelerator. Ra ...
. During the process, she did not miss a day on the bench. Ginsburg was physically weakened by the cancer treatment, and she began working with a personal trainer. Bryant Johnson, a former Army reservist attached to the U.S. Army Special Forces, trained Ginsburg twice weekly in the justices-only gym at the Supreme Court. Ginsburg saw her physical fitness improve after her first bout with cancer; she was able to complete twenty
push-ups The push-up (sometimes called a press-up in British English) is a common calisthenics Physical exercise, exercise beginning from the prone position. By raising and lowering the body using the arms, push-ups exercise the pectoralis major mus ...
in a session before her 80th birthday. Nearly a decade after her first bout with cancer, Ginsburg again underwent surgery on February 5, 2009, this time for
pancreatic cancer Pancreatic cancer arises when cell (biology), cells in the pancreas, a glandular organ behind the stomach, begin to multiply out of control and form a Neoplasm, mass. These cancerous cells have the malignant, ability to invade other parts of t ...
. She had a tumor that was discovered at an early stage. She was released from a New York City hospital on February 13, 2009 and returned to the bench when the Supreme Court went back into session on February 23, 2009. After experiencing discomfort while exercising in the Supreme Court gym in November 2014, she had a
stent In medicine, a stent is a metal or plastic tube inserted into the Lumen (anatomy), lumen of an anatomic vessel or duct to keep the passageway open, and stenting is the placement of a stent. A wide variety of stents are used for different purpose ...
placed in her right coronary artery. Ginsburg's next hospitalization helped her detect another round of cancer. On November 8, 2018, Ginsburg fell in her office at the Supreme Court, fracturing three ribs, for which she was hospitalized. An outpouring of public support followed. Although the day after her fall, Ginsburg's nephew revealed she had already returned to official judicial work after a day of observation, a CT scan of her ribs following her fall showed cancerous nodules in her lungs. On December 21, Ginsburg underwent a left-lung
lobectomy Lobectomy means ''surgical excision of a lobe''. This may refer to a lobe of the lung The lungs are the primary Organ (anatomy), organs of the respiratory system in humans and most other animals, including some snails and a small number o ...
at
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK or MSKCC) is a cancer treatment Cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy (oncology), hormonal therapy, targeted therapy (including immunotherapy such a ...
to remove the nodules. For the first time since joining the Court more than 25 years earlier, Ginsburg missed oral argument on January 7, 2019, while she recuperated. She returned to the Supreme Court on February 15, 2019 to participate in a private conference with other justices in her first appearance at the Court since her cancer surgery in December 2018. Months later in August 2019, the Supreme Court announced that Ginsburg had recently completed three weeks of focused radiation treatment to ablate a tumor found in her
pancreas The pancreas is an Organ (anatomy), organ of the digestive system and endocrine system of vertebrates. In humans, it is located in the abdominal cavity, abdomen behind the stomach and functions as a gland. The pancreas is a mixed or heterocrine ...
over the summer. By January 2020, Ginsburg was cancer-free. By February 2020, the cancer had returned but this news was not released to the public. However, by May 2020, Ginsburg was once again receiving treatment for a recurrence of cancer. She reiterated her position that she "would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam", adding that she remained fully able to do so.


Death and succession

Ginsburg died from complications of pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020, at age 87. She died on the eve of
Rosh Hashanah Rosh HaShanah ( he, רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה, , literally "head of the year") is the Jewish New Year. The Hebrew Bible, biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (, , lit. "day of shouting/blasting") It is the first of the Jewish High Ho ...
, and according to Rabbi Richard Jacobs, "One of the themes of Rosh Hashanah suggest that very righteous people would die at the very end of the year because they were needed until the very end". After the announcement of her death, thousands of people gathered in front of the Supreme Court building to lay flowers, light candles, and leave messages. Five days after her death, the eight Supreme Court justices, Ginsburg's children, and other family members held a private ceremony for Ginsburg in the Court's great hall. Following the private ceremony, due to
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The novel virus was first identif ...
conditions prohibiting the usual lying in repose in the great hall, Ginsburg's casket was moved outdoors to the Court's west portico so the public could pay respects. Thousands of mourners lined up to walk past the casket over the course of two days. After the two days in repose at the Court, Ginsburg lay in state at the Capitol. She was the first woman and first Jew to lie in state therein. On September 29, Ginsburg was buried beside her husband in
Arlington National Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery is one of two national cemeteries run by the United States Army. Nearly 400,000 people are buried in its 639 acres (259 ha) in Arlington, Virginia. There are about 30 funerals conducted on weekdays and 7 held on Sa ...
. Ginsburg's death opened a vacancy on the Supreme Court about six weeks before the 2020 presidential election, initiating controversies regarding the nomination and confirmation of her successor. Days before her death, Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera, as heard by Ginsburg's doctor and others in the room at the time: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." Despite Ginsburg's request, President Trump's pick to replace her, Amy Coney Barrett, was confirmed by the Senate on October 27.


Recognition

In 2002, Ginsburg was inducted into the
National Women's Hall of Fame The National Women's Hall of Fame (NWHF) is an American institution incorporated in 1969 by a group of men and women in Seneca Falls (town), New York, Seneca Falls, New York, although it did not induct its first enshrinees until 1973. As of 202 ...
. Ginsburg was named one of 100 Most Powerful Women (2009), one of ''Glamour'' magazine's Women of the Year 2012, and one of ''
Time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...
'' magazine's 100 most influential people (2015). She was awarded honorary degrees by
Lund University Lund University ( sv, Lunds universitet) is a Public university, public research university in Sweden and one of northern Europe's oldest universities. The university is located in the city of Lund in the province of Scania, Sweden. It traces its r ...
(1969), American University Law School (1981),
Vermont Law School Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) is a Private university, private Law school, law and public policy graduate school in South Royalton, Vermont. It offers several degrees, including Juris Doctor (JD), Master of Laws (LLM) in Environmental La ...
(1984),
Georgetown University Georgetown University is a private university, private research university in the Georgetown (Washington, D.C.), Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded by Bishop John Carroll (archbishop of Baltimore), John Carroll in 1789 as Georg ...
(1985),
DePaul University DePaul University is a private university, private, Catholic higher education, Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded by the Congregation of the Mission, Vincentians in 1898, the university takes its name from the 17th-centu ...
(1985),
Brooklyn Law School Brooklyn Law School (BLS) is a private law school A law school (also known as a law centre or college of law) is an institution specializing in legal education, usually involved as part of a process for becoming a lawyer within a given ju ...
(1987), Hebrew Union College (1988),
Rutgers University Rutgers University (; RU), officially Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a Public university, public land-grant research university consisting of four campuses in New Jersey. Chartered in 1766, Rutgers was originally called Queen's ...
(1990),
Amherst College Amherst College ( ) is a Private college, private Liberal arts colleges in the United States, liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts. Founded in 1821 as an attempt to relocate Williams College by its then-president Zephaniah Swift Moore ...
(1990),
Lewis & Clark College Lewis & Clark College is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" is a song by British singer Dusty Springfield, released as a single on 20 November 1989. It was Springfield's third single in a row to b ...
(1992),
Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a Private university, private research university in New York City. Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of Trinity ...
(1994),
Long Island University Long Island University (LIU) is a private university with two main campuses, LIU Post and LIU Brooklyn, in the U.S. state of New York (state), New York. It offers more than 500 academic programs at its main campuses, online, and at multiple non ...
(1994), NYU (1994),
Smith College Smith College is a Private university, private Liberal arts colleges in the United States, liberal arts Women's colleges in the United States, women's college in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was chartered in 1871 by Sophia Smith (Smith College ...
(1994), The University of Illinois (1994),
Brandeis University Brandeis University is a Private university, private research university in Waltham, Massachusetts. Founded in 1948 as a nonsectarian, non-sectarian, coeducational institution sponsored by the Jews, Jewish community, Brandeis was established on t ...
(1996),
George Washington University The George Washington University (GW or GWU) is a Private university, private University charter#Federal, federally chartered research university in Washington, D.C. Chartered in 1821 by the United States Congress, GWU is the largest Higher educat ...
(1997),
Jewish Theological Seminary of America The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is a Conservative Jewish education organization in New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous cit ...
(1997),
Wheaton College (Massachusetts) Wheaton College is a Private college, private Liberal arts colleges in the United States, liberal arts college in Norton, Massachusetts. Wheaton was founded in 1834 as a female seminary. The trustees officially changed the name of the Wheaton ...
(1997),
Northwestern University Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1851, Northwestern is the oldest chartered university in Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern Unite ...
(1998),
University of Michigan The University of Michigan (U-M, UMich, or Michigan) is a public university, public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded in 1817 by an act of the old Michigan Territory as the History of the University of Michigan#The Catholepistemi ...
(2001),
Brown University Brown University is a private research university in Providence, Rhode Island Providence is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island. One of the oldest cities in New England, it was founded in 1636 by Roger W ...
(2002),
Yale University Yale University is a Private university, private research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Established in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the List of Colonial Colleges, third-oldest institution of higher education in the United Sta ...
(2003),
John Jay College of Criminal Justice The John Jay College of Criminal Justice (John Jay) is a public college A public university or public college is a university or college that is in state ownership, owned by the state or receives significant government spending, public funds ...
(2004),
Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins University (Johns Hopkins, Hopkins, or JHU) is a private university, private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, Johns Hopkins is the oldest research university in the United States and in the western hem ...
(2004),
University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (also known as Penn or UPenn) is a Private university, private research university in Philadelphia. It is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and is ranked among the highest- ...
(2007),
Willamette University Willamette University is a Private university, private Liberal arts colleges in the United States, liberal arts college with locations in Salem, Oregon, Salem and Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1842, it is the oldest college in the Western United ...
(2009),
Princeton University Princeton University is a private university, private research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the List of Colonial Colleges, fourth-oldest ins ...
(2010),
Harvard University Harvard University is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1636 as Harvard College and named for its first benefactor, the History of the Puritans in North America, Puritan cler ...
(2011), and the
State University of New York The State University of New York (SUNY, , ) is a system of public colleges and universities in the New York (state), State of New York. It is one of the List of largest universities and university networks by enrollment, largest comprehensive s ...
(2019). In 2009, Ginsburg received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Scribes The American Society of Legal Writers. In 2013, a painting featuring the four female justices to have served as justices on the Supreme Court (Ginsburg,
Sandra Day O'Connor Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is an American retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was both the first woman nominated and the ...

Sandra Day O'Connor
,
Sonia Sotomayor Sonia Maria Sotomayor (, ; born June 25, 1954) is an American lawyer and jurist who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was Sonia Sotomay ...

Sonia Sotomayor
, and
Elena Kagan Elena Kagan ( ; born April 28, 1960) is an American lawyer who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination ...
) was unveiled at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Researchers at the
Cleveland Museum of Natural History The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum located approximately five miles (8 km) east of downtown Cleveland, Ohio in University Circle, a 550-acre (220 ha) concentration of educational, cultural and medical institu ...
gave a species of
praying mantis Mantises are an order (Mantodea) of insect Insects (from Latin ') are pancrustacean Hexapoda, hexapod invertebrates of the class (biology), class Insecta. They are the largest group within the arthropod phylum. Insects have a chitino ...
the name '' Ilomantis ginsburgae'' after Ginsburg. The name was given because the neck plate of the ''Ilomantis ginsburgae'' bears a resemblance to a jabot, which Ginsburg was known for wearing. Moreover, the new species was identified based upon the female insect's genitalia instead of based upon the male of the species. The researchers noted that the name was a nod to Ginsburg's fight for gender equality. Ginsburg was the recipient of the 2019 $1million Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture. Awarded annually, the Berggruen Institute stated it recognizes "thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world", noting Ginsburg as "a lifelong trailblazer for human rights and gender equality". Ginsburg donated the entirety of the prize money to charitable and non-profit organizations, including the Malala Fund, Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel, the American Bar Foundation,
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK or MSKCC) is a cancer treatment Cancer can be treated by surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormonal therapy (oncology), hormonal therapy, targeted therapy (including immunotherapy such a ...
, and the Washington Concert Opera. Ginsburg received numerous additional awards, including the LBJ Foundation's Liberty & Justice for All Award, the World Peace & Liberty Award from international legal groups, a lifetime achievement award from Diane von Furstenberg's foundation, and the 2020 Liberty Medal by the
National Constitution Center The National Constitution Center is a non-profit institution devoted to the Constitution of the United States. On Independence Mall (Philadelphia), Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the center is an interactive museum and a national ...
all in 2020 alone. In February 2020, she received the World Peace & Liberty Award from the World Jurist Association and the World Law Foundation. In 2019, the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles created ''Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg'', a large-scale exhibition focusing on Ginsburg's life and career. The U.S. Navy announced on March 31, 2022, that it will name one of its ''John Lewis''-class replenishment oilers the USNS ''Ruth Bader Ginsburg''. In 2023, Ginsburg will be featured on a
USPS The United States Postal Service (USPS), also known as the Post Office, U.S. Mail, or Postal Service, is an Independent agencies of the United States government, independent agency of the executive branch of the Federal government of the Uni ...
Forever stamp. The stamp was designed by art director Ethel Kessler, using an oil painting by Michael J. Deas based on a photograph by Philip Bermingham.


In popular culture

Ginsburg has been referred to as a "pop culture icon" and also an "American cultural icon." Ginsburg's profile began to rise after O'Connor's retirement in 2006 left Ginsburg as the only serving female justice. Her increasingly fiery dissents, particularly in '' Shelby County v. Holder'', led to the creation of a sobriquet, "The Notorious R.B.G." (a takeoff on the name of a rap star, The Notorious B.I.G.), which became an
internet meme An Internet meme, commonly known simply as a meme ( ), is an idea, behavior, style, or image that is spread via the Internet, often through social media platforms. What is considered a meme may vary across different communities on the Internet ...
. The name beginning on
Tumblr Tumblr (stylized as tumblr; pronounced "tumbler") is an American microblogging and Social networking service, social networking website founded by David Karp in 2007 and currently owned by Automattic. The service allows users to post multimedia ...
The Tumblr blogger who coined the meme, law student Shana Knizhnik, teamed up with MSNBC reporter Irin Carmon to turn the contented of the blog into a book titled ''Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg''. Released in October 2015, the book became a ''New York Times'' bestseller. In 2016, the progressive magazine Current Affairs criticized Ginsburg's status as an icon of progressivism, noting that her voting record was significantly more moderate than deceased justices
Thurgood Marshall Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908 – January 24, 1993) was an American civil rights lawyer and jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States fro ...
, William J. Brennan Jr., and William O. Douglas, and that she often sided with law enforcement in
qualified immunity In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, state ...
cases. In 2015, Ginsburg and Scalia, known for their shared love of opera, were fictionalized in '' Scalia/Ginsburg'', an opera by Derrick Wang broadcast on national radio on November 7, 2020. The opera was introduced before Ginsburg and Scalia at the Supreme Court in 2013, and Ginsburg attended the 2015 Castleton Festival world premiere as well as a revised version at the 2017 Glimmerglass Festival. Ginsburg, who with Scalia wrote forewords to Wang's libretto, included excerpts from the opera as a chapter in her book '' My Own Words'', quoted it in her official statement on Scalia's death, and spoke about it frequently. Additionally, Ginsburg's pop culture appeal has inspired nail art, Halloween costumes, a bobblehead doll, tattoos, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and a children's coloring book among other things. She appears in both a comic opera and a workout book. Musician Jonathan Mann also made a song using part of her '' Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.'' dissent. Ginsburg admitted to having a "large supply" of Notorious R.B.G. t-shirts, which she distributed as gifts. Since 2015, Kate McKinnon has portrayed Ginsburg on ''
Saturday Night Live ''Saturday Night Live'' (often abbreviated to ''SNL'') is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol that airs on NBC and Peacock (streaming service), Peacock. ...
''. McKinnon has repeatedly reprised the role, including during a ''
Weekend Update ''Weekend Update'' is a ''Saturday Night Live'' Sketch comedy, sketch and satirical news program that comments on and Parody, parodies Portal:Current events, current events. It is Recurring Saturday Night Live characters and sketches, the show ...
'' sketch that aired from the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. The segments typically feature McKinnon (as Ginsburg) lobbing insults she calls "Ginsburns" and doing a celebratory dance. Filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen created a documentary about Ginsburg, titled ''RBG'', for CNN Films, which premiered at the
2018 Sundance Film Festival The 2018 Sundance Film Festival took place from January 18 to January 28, 2018. The first lineup of competition films was announced on November 29, 2017. Awards The following awards were presented: * U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Award: ''The ...
. In the film '' Deadpool 2'' (2018), a photo of her is shown as
Deadpool Deadpool is an antihero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist/writer Rob Liefeld, the character first appeared in ''New Mutants'' #98 (cover-dated Feb. 1991). Initially, Deadpo ...
considers her for his
X-Force X-Force is a fictional team of superhero A superhero or superheroine is a stock character that typically possesses Superpower (ability), ''superpowers'', abilities beyond those of ordinary people, and fits the role of the hero, typically ...
, a team of superheroes. Another film, ''
On the Basis of Sex ''On the Basis of Sex'' is a 2018 American Biographical film, biographical legal drama film based on the life and early cases of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was the second woman to serve as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Di ...
'', focusing on Ginsburg's career struggles fighting for equal rights, was released later in 2018; its screenplay was named to the Black List of best unproduced screenplays of 2014. English actress Felicity Jones portrays Ginsburg in the film, with Armie Hammer as her husband Marty. Ginsburg herself has a cameo in the film. The seventh season of the sitcom ''
New Girl ''New Girl'' is an American television sitcom created by Elizabeth Meriwether and produced by 20th Television for Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox that originally aired from September 20, 2011, to May 15, 2018. The series revolves around a kooky te ...
'' features a three-year-old character named Ruth Bader Schmidt, named after Ginsburg. A
Lego Lego ( , ; stylized as LEGO) is a line of plastic construction toys that are manufactured by The Lego Group, a privately held company based in Billund, Denmark, Billund, Denmark. The company's flagship product, Lego, consists of variously col ...
mini-figurine of Ginsburg is shown within a brief segment of '' The Lego Movie 2''. Ginsburg gave her blessing for the cameo, as well as to have the mini-figurine produced as part of the Lego toy sets following the film's release in February 2019. Also in 2019,
Samuel Adams Samuel Adams ( – October 2, 1803) was an American statesman, Political philosophy, political philosopher, and a Founding Father of the United States. He was a politician in Province of Massachusetts Bay, colonial Massachusetts, a leader of ...
released a limited-edition beer called When There Are Nine, referring to Ginsburg's well-known reply to the question about when there would be enough women on the Supreme Court. In the sitcom ''
The Good Place ''The Good Place'' is an American Fantasy television, fantasy Television comedy, comedy television series created by Michael Schur. It premiered on NBC on September 19, 2016, and concluded on January 30, 2020, after four seasons and List of The ...
'', the "craziest secret celebrity hookup" was Ginsburg and Canadian rapper
Drake Drake may refer to: Animals * A male duck People and fictional characters * Drake (surname), a list of people and fictional characters with the family name * Drake (given name), a list of people and fictional characters with the given name * ...
, whom protagonist Tahani reveals she set up as a "perfect couple". '' Sisters in Law'' (2015), by Linda Hirshman, follows the careers and judicial records of
Sandra Day O'Connor Sandra Day O'Connor (born March 26, 1930) is an American retired attorney and politician who served as the first female associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1981 to 2006. She was both the first woman nominated and the ...

Sandra Day O'Connor
and Ginsburg. In 2018, Ginsburg appeared on ''
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert ''The Late Show with Stephen Colbert'' is an American late-night talk show, late-night news satire, news and liberal political satire talk show hosted by Stephen Colbert, which premiered on September 8, 2015. Produced by Spartina Productions and ...
'', which featured her following her regular workout routine accompanied by
Stephen Colbert Stephen Tyrone Colbert ( ; born May 13, 1964) is an American comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host. He is best known for hosting the satirical Comedy Central program ''The Colbert Report'' from 2005 to ...
joking with her and attempting to perform the same routine. She also answered a few questions and weighed in on the famous internet question "Is a
hot dog A hot dog (uncommonly spelled hotdog) is a food consisting of a grilled or steamed sausage served in the slit of a partially sliced Hot dog bun, bun. The term hot dog can refer to the sausage itself. The sausage used is a wiener (Vienna sausag ...
a sandwich?" and ultimately ruled that, based on Colbert's definition of a sandwich, a hot dog is a sandwich.


See also

* Bill Clinton Supreme Court candidates *
List of justices of the Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest-ranking judicial body in the United States. Its membership, as set by the Judiciary Act of 1869, consists of the chief justice of the United States and eight Associate Justice of the Supreme ...
*
List of law clerks of the Supreme Court of the United States (Seat 6) A ''list'' is any set of items in a row. List or lists may also refer to: People * List (surname) Organizations * List College, an undergraduate division of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America * SC Germania List, German rugby uni ...
* List of U.S. Supreme Court cases during the Rehnquist Court * List of U.S. Supreme Court cases during the Roberts Court *
List of United States Supreme Court justices by time in office A total of 116 people have served on the Supreme Court of the United States The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over al ...
* List of Jewish United States Supreme Court justices


Notes


References


Further reading

* Campbell, Amy Leigh, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. ''Raising the Bar: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ACLU Women's Rights Project''. Princeton, NJ: Xlibris Corporation, 2003. . . * Carmon, Irin, and Knizhnik, Shana. ''Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg''. New York,
Dey Street Dey Street is a short street in Lower Manhattan, in New York City. It passes the west side of the World Trade Center site#New buildings, World Trade Center site and the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. It runs for one block between ...
, William Morrow Publishers, 2015. . . * Clinton, Bill. '' My Life''. New York:
Vintage Books Vintage Books is a trade paperback publishing imprint (trade name), imprint of Penguin Random House originally established by Alfred A. Knopf in 1954. The company was purchased by Random House in April 1960, and a British division was set up in 1 ...
, 2005. pp.524–25, 941. . . * * Dodson, Scott
''The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg''
Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press Cambridge University Press is the university press of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII of England, King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the oldest university press in the world. It is also the King's Printer. Cambr ...
, 2015. * Garner, Bryan A.
Garner on Language and Writing
'. Chicago:
American Bar Association The American Bar Association (ABA) is a voluntary association, voluntary bar association of lawyers and law students, which is not specific to any jurisdiction in the United States. Founded in 1878, the ABA's most important stated activities ar ...
, 2009. Foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. . . * Ginsburg, Ruth Bader, et al. ''Essays in Honor of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg''. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Law School, 2013. . * Hirshman, Linda R.
Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World
'. New York: HarperCollins, 2015. . . * Moritz College of Law (2009). "The Jurisprudence of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Discussion of Fifteen Years on the U.S. Supreme Court: Symposium". ''Ohio State Law Journal''. 70, no. 4: 797–1126. . . *


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Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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