Joan Ruth Bader was born on March 15th, 1933. Her older sister died when she was only six from a disease called Meningitis, which causes inflammation in the membranes protecting her brain. Her father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia, and her mother was born in New York to Austrian Jewish parents. During elementary school, her mother found that there were many children named Joan, so she changed Joan’s name to Ruth. Her parents, especially her mother, were very committed to her education. Sadly though, her mother had cancer and died days before Ruth graduated from high school at the age of 15. Ruth did not attend the graduation ceremony. After graduating high school, Ruth wanted to go to college, but her father had sent her older brother to college instead. Ruth’s father did not believe that girls should go to college. Despite her fathers sexist beliefs, she entered Cornell University on a full scholarship.
During her time at Cornell University, a professor encouraged her to study law, which she did. She was also introduced to her future husband, Martin Ginsburg. Martin and Ruth were married only a few days after Ruth graduated, in June 1954. After graduation, Martin was drafted into the army. Ruth and Martin spent two years in Oklahoma, where Martin was stationed. During this time, Ruth and Martins first child was born. Her name was Jane. Soon after, the Ruth and Martin had their first child, Martin was able to get out of the army and the Ginsburgs moved to Massachusetts.
In Massachusetts, Ruth was finally able to start studying (and for Martin continue studying) law at Harvard Law School. In the middle of the term though, Martin was diagnosed with cancer. Ruth spent a lot of time helping Martin cope with his cancer, but still found time for her studies. Ruth graduated law school, but not at Harvard. She had switched to Columbia Law School. Despite her excellent credentials, she struggled to find a job as a lawyer because of her gender and because she was a mother.
However, one of her law professors from Columbia Law School helped Ruth get a clerkship for Judge Edmund Palmieri. She studied Swedish civil procedure, and eventually published a book on the subject. Later on, Ruth was hired by the Rutgers School of Law as an assistant professor but was payed less than her coworkers because her husband had a well paying job. When Ruth became pregnant again, she tried to hide it from her boss because she was afraid she’d get fired for being pregnant.
In 1970, Ruth took a big leap into fighting gender discrimination. She directed the influential Women’s Rights Project Of The American Civil Liberties Union. She argued six landmark cases against the Supreme Court, winning five. Ruth took a broad look at gender discrimination, fighting not just for the women who were discriminated but also some men who were discriminated. Ruth always had understood gender discrimination on a very personal level, because of her experiences at Rutgers School of Law.
In 1972, Ruth was hired by Columbia Law School as a professor. She excelled in her work, and was the first female professor to receive tenure. She stayed there for eight years, until she was hired by president Jimmy Carter for the U.S Court Of Appeals For The District of Columbia. Her time on the U.S. Court Of Appeals For The District of Columbia earned her reputation as a “cautious jurist”.
In 1993, President Bill Clinton elected Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States. After discussing it with her husband, she said yes. Ruth was officially elected to the Supreme Court on June 14th 1993. Ruth was only the second woman elected to the Supreme Court in the history of the United States. The first was Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. While on the Supreme Court, Ruth became friends with O’Connor, who she admired. O’ Connor was a moderate conservative.
In 1999 Ruth was diagnosed with colon cancer, the first of her five bouts with cancers. She underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but never missed a day on the bench. In 2002, Ruth was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2003, she was given a honorary degree from Yale University. She received over 30 honorary degrees over her lifetime, most notably Harvard University, Princeton University and Columbia University.
In 2009, Ruth was diagnosed with an early stage of cancer. Luckily, it was removed before it became very serious. Later, she was diagnosed with another cancer that was removed again. In 2010, Martin Ginsburg died of cancer. In 2013, many people wondered whether Ruth would retire. She had been on the Supreme Court for 20 years. Ruth did not retire, a decision that received much criticism from the Democratic Party after Republican Donald Trump elected a new Republican justice following her death in September 2020, just six weeks before the election.
On December 21st 2018, Ruth was diagnosed with lung cancer. She received surgery on her lung. In 2019, Ruth had to ablate a tumor found in her pancreas. By January 2020, Ruth was cancer free. Sadly, she died from complications due to pancreatic cancer in September 2020. All over the United States, she was mourned. Due to covid-19, her funeral was private. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was extremely popular. In 2018, in a Deadpool movie, there is a scene where he considers adding Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the X-Force, a team of superheroes.
Thousands of people gathered around the Supreme Court with candles, flowers and messages for Ruth. she was one of the most loved justices in the history of the U.S. In conclusion, she is a cultural icon, a fighter for gender equality, and one of the best justices in the world.
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Houck, Aaron. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Britannica.com. Britannica, September 14th 2021. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ruth-Bader-Ginsburg.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Wikipedia.org. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg.
Shapiro, Maria. Ruth Bader Ginsburg American Justice: A Biography. Apricity; first edition (June 13th 2021). June 13th 2021.