The Power of Judge Ruth Ginsburg 1933-2020


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Ruth Ginsburg was a vital and fierce woman of importance and a romantic. She had a sense of humour and quick wit, yet held one of the highest positions in the land. Ginsburg was a keen and innovative strategist and a mission-focused collaborative leader. She made her mark as a committed advocate for the integrity of the law. Ginsburg was not a woman to accept women’s limitations.

Ginsburg was one of the five female justices who have served on the American Supreme Court. A small percentage out of the 115 justices. Ginsburg was the longest serving justice, from 1993 until her death in 2020.

Ruth Ginsburg’s Early Achievements

Ginsburg came from a Jewish family. She earned excellent grades at school and was one of the few women attending class at Cornell University. Ruth graduated joint-first in her class at Colombia Law School. She was the first tenured female faculty member of Columbia Law School. “It’s never easy being the first and only representative of your class of people.”

She was the first woman to serve on the editorial staff of both Law Review magazines of Harvard and Columbia.

Ruth epitomised all women who have to work three times harder than men, in order to get half the recognition of the average man. Ginsburg was offered exam results if she would have sex with a professor, which she adamantly refused.

“When I graduated from Colombia Law school in 1959, not a law firm in the entire New York area would employ me.” She thought it was because she was a woman, a Jewess and a mother. Ginsburg managed to get a job as a law clerk.

Ruth Ginsburg Professor

In 1963, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became assistant professor of law at the Rutgers School of Law. She had to accept a low salary because her husband had a well-paying job. With another female employee, she filed an Equal Pay Act complaint and won.

She taught a seminar on gender discrimination and became a leading figure in gender discrimination litigation. In 1974, she became the co-founding counsel of ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and co-authored a law-school book on gender discrimination.

Supreme Court Justice

In 1993, Bill Clinton nominated Ruth to the Supreme Court. The Senate voted 96-3. She was the first Jewess to be appointed to the court and only the second woman after her friend, Sandra Day O’Connor.

Throughout her legal career Ruth fought tirelessly for gender equality under the law and was a crusader for woman’s rights. “The gender line helps to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.”

Ruth Ginsburg would have dissented strongly against the court’s change to the Roe v Wade law on abortion rights. “The side that takes the choice away from women and gives it to the state, they’re fighting a losing battle. Time is on the side of change.”

Distinctive Lace Collars

Many powerful women developed a distinctive strategy that was uniquely theirs. Elizabeth Taylor wore diamonds. Audrey Hepburn chose the simple black dress. Grace Kelly was an influential fashion icon, as was Princess Diana and Kate Middleton. Katharine Hepburn was the first lady of menswear. Women of power, influence and fashion go hand in hand.

Ginsburg was well known for her lace collars that she wore on top of the judicial robes. It emphasized the overdue femininity that she brought to the court.

She received collars from all over the world. Photos of Ginsburg’s lace collars are part of the Jewish Museum collection. They represented Ginsburg’s personal style, values and relationships, as many of the collars were of traditional importance.

Ruth Ginsburg Teenage Icon

Ruth Ginsburg won a special place in teenagers’ hearts, as a progressive and feminist folk hero. She is the only Supreme Court Justice to become a pop culture icon. Young people embraced her as a role model for justice, perseverance, and female endowment. “Fight for others in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Ginsburg received attention in American popular culture for her passionate dissents. Her nickname was ‘Notorious R.B.G.’ It was a wordplay on the stage name of the American rapper, Christopher Wallace, who was known as ‘Notorious B.I.G. Ginsburg did not allow her petite stature to define who she was.

The nickname came from a Tumblr post made by NYU Law Student Shana Knizhnik, in 2013. She explained, “It was a juxtaposition of Ginsburg’s small stature and powerful presence.” Ginsburg’s sense of humour showed through, as she readily accepted the nickname.


Her opponents pushed for Ginsburg to retire, because of her being a twice cancer survivor, her advanced age and frailty. Instead, she opted to remain on the court for as long as she could perform her job. Ruth Bader Ginsburg then embarked on a vigorous exercise schedule. 

Ginsburg became the oldest justice and longest-serving Jewess. She died in 2020, at age 87, from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg had served on the court for 27 years.

Ruth Ginsberg And Sexism

Ginsburg battled sexism throughout her life and career. She said, “Women’s rights are an essential part of human rights.”

Ginsburg became one of the top 30 women pioneers who changed the world. She and her daughter became the first mother-daughter to teach on the same law faculty at Columbia. They are also the first mother-daughter to attend Harvard Law School.

Other Female Justices

Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to become an associate justice of the supreme court of America. She served the court for 25 years, from 1981 to 2006. O’Connor was voted the most powerful woman in the world at that point. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Award by Barack Obama. Ginsburg and O’Connor had a special relationship.

In 2009, Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor. She was confirmed by a vote of 68-31. She was only the third woman to be appointed to the court. Sonia was the first Hispanic and Latina to serve on the Supreme Court.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked how many female justices would be enough. She replied, “No one ever raised a question about having nine men justices, so why not nine female justices?”

Ginsburg is proof that all women have a unique voice in their sphere of influence. Ruth is reported as saying, “We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.”

Deborah was another brave and committed advocate and judge. There are also many courageous woman who have refused to let position, or disability define who they are.

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    Wendy is an Inspirational Freelance Writer specializing in offering encouragement to women in all walks of life.

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