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Justice Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg - A biography

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an extraordinary figure - a justice, a mother, a feminist, someone who really made a change in America. Here is her story.

Overview of Life:

Joan Ruth Bader was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1933 to Nathan and Celia Bader. In kindergarten, she wanted to be addressed by her middle name, Ruth, to distinguish her from other Joans. Her mother made a huge impact on Ruth’s life, as she taught Ruth the importance of a good education. Celia died days before Ruth’s high school graduation from cancer. Ruth continued on to attend Cornell University, on a full scholarship. She met Martin D. Ginsburg, her future husband there. Ruth graduated as the first in her class in 1954. Then, Martin was drafted in the military, so the young couple moved to Oklahoma. They had their first child Jane there. Two years later, the couple moved to Massachusetts to study in Harvard Law School. Ruth was the first woman to be on the editorial staff of Harvard Law Review. She later transferred to Columbia Law School and graduated first in her class in 1959. She experienced much gender descrimination while trying to find a job after. She clerked for the U.S. District Judge Edmund Palmieri and eventually became Columbia’s first female tenured professor. During all this time, Ruth’s passion for women’s rights kept increasing. She served on the ACLU Women’s rights project, where she argued six landmark cases in the Supreme Court. In 1980, Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In 1993, Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court.


Ruth strived to achieve gender equality and this is displayed time and time again over her career. Some key cases Ruth was involved in were the United States vs. Virginia, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Obergefell v. Hodges, and Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. She helped admit women to the Virginia Military Academic, helped people with disabilities, helped end wage discriminition, helped legalize LGBTQ couples and stood against the abortion ban.


  • “We are a nation made strong by people like you.” (at a naturalization ceremony)

  • "When I'm sometimes asked 'When will there be enough (women on the Supreme Court)?' and my answer is: 'When there are nine.' People are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that."

  • "My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent."

  • "Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you."

  • "We are at last beginning to relegate to the history books the idea of the token woman."

    • This last quote perfectly embodies Justice Ginsburg’s life. She left her mark on history as an accomplished woman and many people look up to her.

I hope that this article gave you a sense of who Ruth Bader Ginsburg is and all she has accomplished in her life. Her mark on America won’t be forgotten!

Thanks for reading! Photo credits: Forbes. Sources: Britannica, History, Biography, CNN


Hemali Gauri

Haas Hall Academy Fayetteville Freshman

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