US SUPREME COURT JUSTICE – RUTH BADER GINSBURG

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RUTH BADER GINSBURG, the second female justice and the first Jewish female justice on the high court ,was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 15, 1933, the daughter of Celia and Nathan Bader, in Brooklyn, New York. Ruth Bader was one of two daughters; her older sister, Marilyn, died of meningitis and she was reared as an only child.

She received her B.A. from Cornell University in 1954. She married Martin D. Ginsburg, who had graduated Cornell the year before.

[Martin D. Ginsburg, now a professor of tax law at Georgetown University Law Center. They have two children: Jane C. Ginsburg, a professor at Columbia Law School, and James S. Ginsburg, a producer of classical recordings.]

In 1954, Martin D. Ginsburg, was called for military service and they lived at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for two years. It was during this period that Ruth Ginsburg experienced sex discrimination. She applied for a job with the local social security office while she was pregnant. She was appointed to a position and when she told them that she was pregnant, they demoted her three levels in pay. Another woman, who was appointed and never told them of her pregnancy, received no demotion in the pay scale. After her husband completed his military service, they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they both enrolled in the Harvard Law School. She transferred to Columbia Law School after her husband graduated Harvard Law School and obtained a job in Manhattan. She received her LL.B from Columbia Law School.

Ginsburg served as a law clerk to Judge Edmund L. Palmieri of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York from 1959-1961. She then became associate director of a comparative law project sponsored by Columbia University which required her to study the Swedish legal system. In 1963 Ginsburg joined the faculty of Rutgers Law School in Newark, New Jersey. In 1972 she was hired by Columbia Law School, where she taught until 1980. Ginsburg served as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California from 1977-1978. In the 1970s Ginsburg litigated sex discrimination cases for the American Civil Liberties Union, and was instrumental in launching its Women’s Rights Project in 1973. She served as general counsel of the ACLU from 1973-1980 and on the National Board of Directors from 1974-1980. President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. On June 14, 1993 Ginsburg accepted President Bill Clinton’s nomination to the Supreme Court and took her seat on August 10, 1993. [http://www.supremecourthistory.org/history-of-the-court/the-current-court/justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg]

“As a judge,  Ruth Ginsburg favors caution, moderation and restraint. She is  considered part of the Supreme Court’s moderate-liberal bloc presenting a  strong voice in favor of gender equality, the rights of workers and  the separation of church and state. In 1996, Ginsburg wrote the Supreme  Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Virginia, which held that  the state-supported Virginia Military Institute could not refuse to  admit women. In 1999, she won the American Bar Association’s Thurgood  Marshall Award for her contributions to gender equality and civil  rights. Despite her reputation for restrained writing, she gathered considerable attention for her dissenting opinion in the case of Bush v. Gore, which effectively decided the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Objecting to the court’s majority opinion favoring Bush, Ginsburg deliberately and subtly concluded her decision with the words, “I dissent”—a significant departure from the tradition of including the adverb “respectfully.” She continues to promote women’s rights from the high court and will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in many controversial cases to come.” [http://www.biography.com/people/ruth-bader-ginsburg-9312041?page=2]

“Before she was on the bench, as an academic and co-founder of the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, Ginsburg brought seven sex discrimination cases to the Supreme Court – and won six. Perplexing some feminists and the justices then on the bench, several of her cases had male plaintiffs, including a widower who wanted to be the primary caregiver for his son.

Ginsburg was fighting for something more unsettling than just letting women into the boys’ club. The cases sought to convince the court, says NYU law professor Kenji Yoshino, that “you can’t make biology destiny. The government cannot say that men and women have these innate attributes, or that women and men have complemer… As a Supreme Court justice, Ginsburg was soon able to finish some of the work she started. She drew on her own ACLU cases for her 1996 majority opinion striking down the Virginia Military Institute’s males-only policy, saying the government could treat men and women differently only if there was a very good reason. “The justification must be genuine, not hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation,” Ginsburg wrote of any law that classified by gender. “And it must not rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females.” [http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/how-ruth-bader-ginsburg-helped-pave-the-way-marriage-equality]

“Having suffered significant health problems, she has regularly been in the news since US President Barack Obama was reelected, with many Democrats pressing her to retire before he leaves office to ensure she is replaced by a liberal with similar values. She has rejected these recommendations out of hand, claiming that she is certain a Democrat will win the White House in 2016 and that she desires to stay in the game as long as she can. She was recently on the winning side of a narrow 5-4 ruling that struck down as unconstitutional an Alabama decision to redistrict based on race. She was also part of a 9-0 decision declaring it unconstitutional for a prison to restrict Muslim inmates from growing beards for security reasons.” [http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Most-influential-Jews-in-law-403777]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg  was recognized by the Time Magazine’s as one of the 100 most influential people, and by the  Jerusalem Post as one of the 50 most influential Jews.

 

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