Icon. Firebrand. Champion. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was all of these and more. Justice Ginsburg served 27 years on the United States Supreme Court, until her passing yesterday, September 18, 2020. The NHWBA mourns the loss of such a legal titan and stalwart advocate for equality.
Despite graduating first in her class at Columbia Law in 1959, Justice Ginsburg had a hard time finding work after graduation because: 1) she was a mother; and 2) she was a woman.
In 1965, Justice Ginsburg wore her mother-in-law’s clothing to her job as a professor at Rutgers Law, for fear of not having her contract renewed while she was pregnant with her second child.
Justice Ginsburg worked tirelessly to advance women’s rights. In 1970, she co-founded The Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the United States to focus exclusively on women’s rights. In 1972, she co-founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. Between 1973 and 1976, she argued six gender discrimination cases before SCOTUS, winning five of them. Justice Ginsburg carved a significant path for women through her Equal Protection Clause arguments. These efforts had the effect of discouraging lawmakers from treating men and women differently under the law.
In 1993, President Clinton nominated Justice Ginsburg to the United States Supreme Court. She was the second woman, after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, to serve on the Court.
Justice Ginsburg believed that the law was gender-blind. The 87-year old justice is quoted as having said, “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”
In 2015, Justice Ginsburg said that she was sometimes asked when there would be enough women on SCOTUS. Her response: “When there are nine.” She explained that this shocked people, “but there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”
We will remember you, Justice Ginsburg, as someone who used her substantial talents to do her work to the best of her ability. You paved the way for all of us.