The Life and Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Katlin Hill

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Graphic Art created by Instagram user @robblackard

Kaitlin Hill, Editor

On Friday, September 18th, America awoke to the news that associate Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had died at 87. Ginsburg had been battling pancreatic cancer since 2009 among five other types she had previously beaten. After the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens in 2010, Ginsburg became the oldest serving justice at the age of 77, and the fourth-oldest serving justice of all time after her death on the 18th. 

Ruth Bader was born on March 15th, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. From an early age, she fell in love with academia, and graduated at the top of her class from Cornell University in 1954. For two years, Ginsburg put her education on hold to grow her family with her husband Martin Ginsburg. In 1955, she gave birth to her first child, Jane. After her husband returned from two years of war service, Ginsburg enrolled in Harvard Law School alongside her husband. 

Throughout her time at Harvard, Ginsburg faced numerous family and educational challenges. During her first year at Harvard Law, Ginsburg’s husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Ginsburg cared for her sick husband while keeping him up to date with his schooling, all while remaining at the top of her male-dominated class and raising her children. Her final year of law school, the Ginsburgs moved to New York for Martin to take a job at a law firm, and Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law to finish off her degree.

Due to the gender-discrimination women faced at the time, Ginsburg had difficulty finding a job where she would be paid equally to her male coworkers. This led Ginsburg to take up a job in civil procedure where she could work abroad in Sweden. Ginsburg continued on this path until she accepted a professor job at Rutgers University in 1963, and eventually took the same position at Columbia Law in 1972, where she became the first female teacher to hold tenure. 

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In the 1970s, Ginsburg became the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, where she influenced 6 landmark gender discrimination cases. After serving on the U.S Court of Appeals under Jimmy Carter, Ginsburg was appointed to the U.S Supreme Court by President Bill Clintion in 1993.During her 13 years on the supreme court, Ginsburg’s impact on gender rights was monumental. Many of the cases she presided over have granted women the equal rights we enjoy today, and many now fear that these rights may be stripped with her passing. When she was not presiding over a case, Ginsburg remained incredibly active, and worked with a personal trainer up until her death. Ginsburg’s life work was something to be marveled at by all Americans. She remains the true embodiment of justice for all and will be memorialized in Arlington National Cemetery beside her late husband.