Ginsburg, Ruth Bader

Ginsburg, Ruth Bader, 1933–2020, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (1993–2020), b. Brooklyn, N.Y., as Joan Ruth Bader. A graduate (1954) of Cornell, she attended Harvard Law School, then transferred to Columbia Law School, graduating in 1959. She clerked in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, taught at Rutgers Law School (1963–72), and became (1972) the first woman tenured professor at Columbia. During the 1970s, as general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union's Women's Rights Project, she argued a series of cases focused on discrimination against men before the Supreme Court that strengthened constitutional safeguards of gender equality; she has been called the “Thurgood Marshall of women's rights.” In 1980 President Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, where she displayed a belief in judicial restraint and took a position between sharply defined liberal and conservative factions. Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993 to replace Byron White, Ginsburg continued to act as a centrist, generally eschewing judicial activism and advocating that social change arise legislation rather than court decisions. As the court moved toward the right in the 21st cent., she was increasingly identified as a member of its liberal wing and became noted for her pointed dissents. Her most prominent decision as a justice was her majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, in which the court held that the Virginia Military Institute could not deny admission to qualified women.

See her My Own Words (2016, with M. Harnett and W. W. Williams); biography by J. S. De Hart (2018); I. Carmon and S. Knizhnik, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2015); L. Hirshman, Sisters In Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World (2015); B. West and J. Cohen, dir. RBG (documentary, 2018).

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