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  • By Tyler Connolly

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her impact on the U.S.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has filled the news in recent weeks following her death. 

Questions many still ask, is who exactly is Ruth Bader Ginsburg? What is her legacy? Many know her as a Supreme Court Justice, but she was much more than that. The legacy she left behind will continue to impact millions of Americans each day. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born Joan Ruth Bader in Brooklyn, New York on March 15, 1933, during the midst of the Great Depression. Ginsburg’s mother instilled a love of education in her that she would carry throughout her lifetime. Her mother watched her excel at James Madison High School until she died the day before Ginsburg’s graduation. 

Ginsburg continued her education at Cornell University and graduated as the top-ranking female of her class in 1954. She also met her husband, Martin Ginsburg, in 1954 and put the rest of her education on hold to start a family. She then enrolled at Harvard Law School in 1957 and was one of only nine females in a 500-person class. She had to transfer to Columbia law with one year of school remaining after her husband accepted a law firm position in New York. She graduated top of her class in 1959. 

Ginsburg faced gender-based discrimination as soon as she tried to enter the workplace in the 1960s. Ginsburg clerked under Judge Edmund L. Palmieri for two years and was offered some jobs at law firms, but it was always for much less pay than her male counterparts. 

She joined the Columbia Project on International Civil Procedure before becoming a professor at Rutgers University Law School in 1963. She then began teaching at Columbia in 1972 and became the first female professor to earn tenure. Also, during the 1970s, Ginsburg directed the Women Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union. While holding this position she helped lead the fight against gender discrimination and successfully argued six landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

She was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980 by Jimmy Carter, and then in 1993, Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court of the United States. 

Throughout her time on the court, Justice Ginsburg continued to be an advocate for women’s rights. She attacked specific areas of discrimination and violations of women’s rights one at a time instead of trying to create sweeping limitations on discrimination. Ginsburg decided that the court should provide guidance to congress for legislature to create social change. Until her 2018 term, Ginsburg had not missed a day of oral arguments. 

Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, 2020. 

Ginsburg was an advocate for women’s rights and was one of the most avid questioners on the Supreme Court bench. She leaves behind a legacy of victories against gender discrimination and progress for the rights of women. The cases she helped argue and the decisions she made while on the Supreme Court will forever impact what women can do with their education and within the workplace. 

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