A tribute to late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 18, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at 87 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. Her death devastated many, as she led a long, fulfilling political career. Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, after Sandra Day O’Connor, and was the first Jewish woman to serve. She was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and was initially viewed as a moderate consensus-builder, though she later became a senior member of the “liberal wing” of the court.

Ginsburg was born in 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Cornell University where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She went on to study at Harvard Law School and later transferred to Columbia Law School. Ginsburg found difficulty finding a job in her early career, as she was a woman. However, she eventually began clerkship under Judge Palmieri at the strong recommendation of former Columbia law professor Gerald Gunther.

In 1972, Ginsburg went on to co-found the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Rights Union (ACLU) and later became the project’s general counsel. The project participated in over 300 gender discrimination cases by 1974. As director of the Women’s Rights Project, Ginsberg argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court and won five by 1976.

June 22, 1993, Ginsburg was nominated to the Supreme Court by former president Bill Clinton to fill the seat of retired Justice Byron White. As a Justice, she argued several cases. Ginsburg was well known for her work in combating gender discrimination, most notably in the case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear (a case about wage discrimination based on gender) and in the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. She was also notable for her work in abortion rights. Ginsburg voted in opposition and struck down several laws averse to abortion. Her vote helped Stenberg v. Starcart, a partial-birth abortion law in Nebraska, be struck down, and her participation in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt allowed parts of a Texan law which affected abortion providers to be struck down.

Before her passing, Ginsburg was a mother of two and grandmother of four. She and her husband, Martin D. Ginsberg, parented two children: Jane C. Ginsburg and James Steven Ginsberg.