The Notorious RGB


R. Michael Jenkins

Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Senate confirmation hearing for her appointment to the Supreme Court on July 20th, 1993.

Emma Brading '25

“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your person, be independent.”  That quote is not only inspiring but incredibly true to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and career. From becoming the first female tenured professor at Rutgers and the first Jewish female Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg has a lengthy list of accomplishments– particularly her substantial impact on the judicial system regarding equality. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an inspiration, but especially to women due to her unfaltering fight for equal rights regarding gender, and her refusal to surrender even though she was regularly faced with discrimination. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (then Ruth Joan Bader) was born on March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York. Also, Ruth and her family were Jewish, which, especially around this time, led to a lot of discrimination. Her family didn’t have much money growing up and her mother hadn’t gone to college. However, her mother, Celia Bader, was a huge influence on Ruth and impacted how and what Ruth would do in the future. Sadly, Celia would die of cancer in 1950, one day before Ruth’s high school graduation, when Ruth was just seventeen. Despite her struggles, Ruth was able to finish first in her class at Cornell University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in government in 1954. Then, being one of nine women in her class at Harvard, received her law degree. Then, she went to Columbia Law School where she again graduated first in her class in 1959. During her time in school, she also became the first woman to become a member of the Harvard Law Review and gained a spot at a law firm in New York. Keep in mind, she did all of this while taking care of her daughter, tending to and taking notes for her cancer-stricken husband (Martin Ginsburg), and facing gender discrimination and antisemitism. 

From 1963-1972, Ginsburg taught at the Rutgers Law School, and then from 1972-1980, she taught at Columbia as their first female tenured professor. In her last year of teaching, 1980, Ginsburg gained a seat in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She would work there for 13 years until being assigned to be a Supreme Court Justice by President Bill Clinton in 1993. During her years serving as a Justice, she fought many important cases, an early one being United States v. Virginia in 1996. The basis of this case was that the Virginia Military Institute forbade women from entering their program. VMI said that they would make a program specifically for women but Ginsburg went through in her fight. In the end, the case was 7 to 1, in favor of the United States. Although this was just one school, this was a huge milestone in women’s rights since it showed America that we now had a loud voice to speak for us all: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg sadly passed away at 87 due to cancer (September 18, 2020). Although she is not physically here anymore, her legacy should not be forgotten. Her 27 years on the Supreme Court where she consistently fought for the equal rights of women should continue to be brought up. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not only a brilliant, talented woman, but she was also a symbol of hope for everyone but especially women. She spent her entire life overcoming discrimination everywhere on account of the fact she was not only a Jewish woman but one with a passion for equality. She has left the world making it a better place, and we should remember and honor her and her many contributions to women’s rights. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an inspiration to all, but especially women due to her unfaltering fight for equal rights regarding gender and her refusal to surrender even though she was regularly faced with discrimination. She had a passion for justice and equality that we rarely get to see. She spent her whole life fighting for the equal rights of others and successfully made an impact on American history. From, top of her class to Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg put her all into everything she did, and fought for everything like her life depended on it. Due to her drive, fight, brilliance, and candidness, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will remain an inspiration to all now and in years to come.