Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents were Celia and Nathan Bader. Her father was a clothing manufacturer and her mother was in charge of the house. Even though Celia was a homemaker, she taught her daughter that women could do anything and instilled her with a love for reading.
In My Own Words, Ginsburg tells of her mother "that her example, made reading a delight and counseled me constantly to 'be independent', able to fend for myself, whatever fortune might have in store for me."
Ginsburg was an excellent student fond of history, English, and gym classes. She wasn’t fond, however, of the fact that girls had to take cooking and sewing classes while boys learned how to make things with wood. Seemed unfair to her. Trips to the local library were her favorite pastime. She was a fan of Little Women and the Nancy Drew detective books.
Ginsburg's mother died the day before her graduation from high school, but that didn’t deter her from going to Cornell University to pursue her bachelor's degree in government. She met Martin Ginsburg—her future husband, love of her life, and greatest supporter—at Cornell University. Ginsburg herself gives a lot of credit to her husband for being able to achieve work-life balance.
In My Own Words, she states: "I have had more than a little bit of luck in life, but nothing equals in magnitude my marriage to Martin D. Ginsburg. I do not have words adequate to describe my supersmart, exuberant, ever-loving spouse." She also points out that he was the cook of the family and that he did everything on his power to make happen her appointment to the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg started studying law in 1956 at Harvard Law School, where she was only one of nine women in a class of about 500 students. She later transferred to Columbia Law School and graduated at the top of her class in 1959. She encountered discrimination because she was a woman during her student years and the start of her career. Women were not supposed to become lawyers. Nobody would give her a job after she graduated.
Judge Edmund Palmieri decided to give her an opportunity as a judicial clerk. She demonstrated her amazing abilities as a lawyer and the job offers poured in. When she started teaching at Rutgers University Law School in 1963, she became one of the first female law professors in the United States. She also taught at Columbia Law School.
During the 1970s, she served as the director and counsel to the American Civil Rights Liberties Union (ACLU) Women's Rights Project. In 1973, she presented her first oral argument before the Supreme Court in the case Frontiero v. Richardson. She became known for her fight for the equal rights of men and women, and as a result, worked in other important cases regarding equality.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the United States Court of Appeals. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, becoming the second woman and the first Jewish woman to receive the prestigious and honorable appointment. The first woman to achieve the deed was Sandra Day O' Connor in 1981. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are the other two women who have been appointed to the Supreme Court, making that only four women who have been Supreme Court Justices in the history of the United States.
Book recommendations and sources:
For childrenI Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark written by Debbie Levy and illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley
For adultsMy Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams
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