Ginsburg, Ruth Bader

Author:Jeffrey Lehman, Shirelle Phelps

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. Ginsburg was the first person nominated to the Court by President BILL CLINTON, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice BYRON R. WHITE. As an attorney prior to her appointment, Ginsburg won distinction for her advocacy of WOMEN'S RIGHTS before the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg was born March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, daughter of Nathan Bader, a furrier and haberdasher, and Celia (Amster) Bader. Ginsburg attended New York public schools and then Cornell University. She married Martin Ginsburg after graduating from Cornell in 1954, and gave birth to a daughter, Jane Ginsburg, before entering Harvard Law School in 1956. Ginsburg was an outstanding student and was elected president of her class at the prestigious Harvard Law School. After her second year, she transferred to Columbia Law School, following her husband, who had taken a position with a New York City law firm. Ginsburg was elected to the Columbia Law Review and graduated first in her class. She was admitted to the New York bar in 1959.

Despite her academic brilliance, New York law firms refused to hire Ginsburg because she was a woman. She finally got a position as a law clerk to a federal district court judge. In 1961, Ginsburg entered the academic field as a research associate at Columbia Law School. In 1963, she joined the faculty of Rutgers University School of Law, where she served as a professor until 1972.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


In 1972, Ginsburg's career shifted to that of an advocate. As the director of the Women's Rights Project of the AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, she developed and used a strategy of showing that laws that discriminated between men and women were often based on stereo-types that were unfair to both sexes. In the early to mid-1970s, Ginsburg argued six women's rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, winning five of them.

FRONTIERO V. RICHARDSON, 411 U.S. 677, 93 S. Ct. 1764, 36 L. Ed. 2d 583 (1973), illustrates the

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type of cases Ginsburg argued before the Court. In Frontiero, a female Air Force officer successfully challenged statutes (10 U.S.C.A. §§ 1072, 1076; 37 U.S.C.A. §§ 401, 403) that allowed a married serviceman to qualify for higher housing benefits even if his wife was not dependent on his income, while requiring a married servicewoman to prove her husband's dependence...

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