Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg.jpg
Current Court Information:
Supreme Court of the United States
Title:   Associate Justice
Appointed by:   Bill Clinton
Approval vote:   97-3
Active:   8/5/1993-Present
Preceded by:   Byron White
Past post:   District of Columbia Court of Appeals
Past term:   1980-1993
Personal History
Born:   3/15/1933
Hometown:   New York, NY (Brooklyn)
Undergraduate:   Cornell, B.A., 1954
Law School:   Columbia Law, LL.B., 1959

Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg is the 107th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton on June 22, 1993, and received her commission on August 5, 1993.

Justice Ginsburg is the second woman and the first Jewish woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Before joining the Court, she spent a considerable portion of her legal career as an advocate for the equal citizenship status of women and men as a constitutional principle. She engaged in advocacy as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and in the 1970s, was a member of the ACLU's Board and one of its General Counsel.[1][2]

Judicial philosophy

Ruth Bader Ginsburg believes in the Living Constitution, a form of jurisprudence that believes the United States Constitution is a document that adapts to the times, taking on different meanings depending on when it is interpreted. This is opposed to originalism or textualism, which state that the Constitution's meaning cannot adapt, and its exact meaning is the same as when it was written.[3]

Ginsburg is a stout defender of equality. She is a strong advocate for women's rights, but her time on the courts has demonstrated that she does not place women's rights above that of men.[4] During her confirmation, President Bill Clinton called Ginsburg the "Thurgood Marshall of gender equality law."[5]

Early life and education

Ginsburg received her B.A. from Cornell University. In 1954, she enrolled at Harvard Law School. When her husband took a job in New York City, she transferred to Columbia Law School and became the first woman to be on both the Harvard and Columbia law reviews. She earned her LL. B degree at Columbia in 1959.[2][6]

Professional career

  • 1973-1980: General Counsel
  • 1972-1973: Director and Co-Founder, Women's Rights Project
  • 1973-1974: Consultant, United States Commission on Civil Rights
  • 1972-1980: Professor, Columbia University School of Law
  • 1963-1972: Rutgers School of Law
  • 1969-1972: Professor
  • 1966-1969: Associate Professor
  • 1963-1966: Assistant Professor
  • 1962-1963: Associate Director, Project on International Procedure, Columbia Law School
  • 1961-1962: Research Associate, Project on International Procedure, Columbia Law School
  • 1959-1961: Law Clerk, Edmund Palmieri, Southern District of New York

While Ginsburg was working on the Project on International Procedure at Columbia Law, she learned Swedish to co-author a book on judicial procedure in Sweden. During her time at Rutgers, she co-founded the Women's Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the United States to focus exclusively on women's rights. Her time at Columbia Law saw her become the first woman tenured to the law school. Also while at Columbia, she authored the first law school case book on sex discrimination. During her time at the ACLU, Ginsberg appeared before the Supreme Court six times, earning a reputation as a skilled oral advocate.[6][2]

Supreme Court of the United States

Opinions by year

Below is a table of the number of opinions, concurrences, dissents, and splits (concur in part, dissent in part) that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has issued since joining the Supreme Court, from Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute.[7]

1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Opinions 1 9 9 10 10 8 10 8 10 10 8 11 7 7 8 5 7 9 8 0 0
Concurrences 1 10 8 5 4 6 3 3 5 2 3 3 5 3 3 3 1 3 8 0 0
Dissents 0 7 7 3 3 7 3 7 3 6 6 6 7 3 4 5 8 3 5 0 0
Concur in part, Dissent in part 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 1 0 0
Totals 2 27 24 19 18 21 17 20 18 18 18 20 19 13 16 16 17 15 22 0 0

Notable cases

Notable dissents

Following the strong dissents read by Justice Ginsburg during the end of the Supreme Court's October 2012 term, a blog dedicated to quotes, memes and cartoons was created. The blog can be found at[10]

Nomination and confirmation

President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States on June 22, 1993. During her confirmation hearings in the Senate, Ginsburg refused to answer questions regarding her personal views on most issues. She also refused to answer how she would adjudicate certain hypothetical situations as a Supreme Court Justice. She did answer questions relating to some issues, affirming her belief in a constitutional right to privacy, and explaining at some length her personal philosophy and thoughts regarding gender equality. The Senate confirmed Ginsburg by a 96-3 vote, and she took her seat on August 10, 1993.

See: "Ginsburg Precedent" section above

For the full transcript of Justice Ginsburg's confirmation hearing, visit: The Library of Congress, Nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Oath of office

Justice Ginsburg took the Constitutional and Judicial Oaths of Office on August 10, 1993. The oaths were administered by Chief Justice William Rehnquist.[11]

Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit

Ginsburg was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Jimmy Carter on April 14, 1980, to fill the seat left vacant by the death of Harold Leventhal.[1] She received her commission on June 18, 1980.

Awards and associations


  • 1992: Honorary Degree, Lewis and Clark College
  • 1991: Honorary Degree, Amherst College
  • 1991: Honorary Degree, Rutgers University
  • 1988: Honorary Degree, Hebrew Union College
  • 1987: Honorary Degree, Brooklyn Law School
  • 1985: Honorary Degree, Georgetown University Law Center
  • 1984: Honorary Degree, Vermont Law School
  • 1981: Honorary Degree, American University
  • 1980: Barnard College Annual Woman of Achievement Award
  • 1979: Society of American Law Teachers Annual Outstanding Teach of Law Award
  • 1977: Selected as one of ten outstanding United States law school professors, Time
  • Phi Kappa Phi
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • New York State Regents and Cornell Scholarships


  • 1992-1993: Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Private International Law, Study Group on International Recognition of Judgments
  • 1990-1993: Chairman, Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit
  • 1990-1993: Honorary Member and Board of Governors, International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
  • 1988-1990: Member, Judicial Conference of the United States, Committee on the Fifth International Appellate Judges Conference
  • 1980-1993: Editorial Board, Encyclopedia of the American Constitution
  • 1979-1980: Amicus Curiae Committee, American Bar Association
  • 1979-1980: Advisory Committee on Planning for the District Courts, Judicial Council of the Second Circuit
  • 1979: Nominating Committee, Association of American Law Schools
  • 1978-1980: National Commission on Law and Social Action, American Jewish Congress
  • 1978-1980: Vice-President, Federal Bar Council
  • 1978-1980: Advisory Board and Editorial Board for the Guide to American Law, West Publishing Company Law School Department
  • 1977-1980: National Advisory Board and Advisory Board to Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Women's Equity Action League
  • 1977-1980: Advisory Board, Urban Institute, Center for Policy Research on Women
  • 1977-1980: Academic Advisory Board, Columbia University Center for the study of Human Rights
  • 1977-1980: Advisory Board, Columbia University Center for the Social Sciences, Program in Sex Roles and Social Change
  • 1977-1980: Board Member, National Woman's Party
  • 1976-1980: Planning and Program Committee, Judicial Conference of the Second Circuit
  • 1975-1993: Member, Council on Foreign Relations
  • 1975-1981: Council Member, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities, American Bar Association
  • 1975-1980: Board Member, Women's Action Alliance
  • 1975-1980: Society of American Law Teachers
  • 1978-1980: Vice President
  • 1975-1977: Board of Governors and Executive Committee
  • 1972-1993: American Law Institute
  • 1985-1993: Adviser, Project on Complex Litigation
  • 1978-1993: Council Member
  • 1972-1982: Adviser, Restatement of Judgments
  • 1972-1980: Board Member, Women's Law Fund
  • 1972-1978: Bard of Editors, ABA Journal
  • 1972-1973: Director, Citizens Union
  • 1972: Executive Committee, Association of American Law Schools
  • 1970-1973: Chairman, Section of International Law, Committee on Comparative Procedure and Practice, American Bar Association
  • 1970-1977: Board of Directors, American Foreign Law Association
  • 1973-1976: Vice-President
  • 1967-1972: Member, European Law Committee, American Bar Association
  • 1966-1980: Association of the Bar of the City of New York
  • 1979-1980: Civil Rights Committee
  • 1978-1979: Sex and Law Committee
  • 1974-1978: Executive Committee
  • 1970-1974: Post Admission Legal Education Committee
  • 1966-1969: Foreign Law Committee
  • 1966-1972: Editorial Board, American Journal of Comparative Law
  • 1963-1967: International Board, Children's International Summer Villages[12]

"Ginsburg Precedent"

More than a decade passed between the appointment of Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1994 and when another justice would leave the Court. During that time, both Congress and the White House switched to Republican control. When Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement in the summer of 2005 (with William Rehnquist's death to follow a few months later), both sides began to squabble about just how many questions President George W. Bush's nominees would be expected to answer. The debate heated up when hearings for John Roberts began in September 2005. Republicans used an argument that they called the "Ginsburg Precedent," which centered on Ruth Bader Ginsburg's confirmation hearings. In those hearings, Ginsburg did not answer many questions involving matters such as abortion, gay rights, separation of church and state, rights of the disabled, and so on. Only one witness was allowed to testify against Ginsburg during the four-day confirmation hearing process.[13]

Some politicians, such as Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), contested the idea of the "Ginsburg Precedent." He said that "over 300 opinions over 13 years as a federal judge" allowed Ginsburg to share her opinions through her body of work.[13] The "precedent" was highly contested, with both sides having strong arguments as to why the precedent did or did not exist. The Federalist Society issued a paper on the Ginsburg confirmations concluding that the justice's general answers and avoidance of other questions were based on valid reasoning, and her 96-3 confirmation vote supported that the Senate understood these reasons.[14]

Personal life

Ginsburg has suffered from ill health, undergoing cancer surgery in February 2009 and a brief hospital stay in September 2009 after falling ill in her offices. She also spent a night in the hospital in October 2009 after collapsing in an airplane.[15][16][17]

Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to perform a same-sex marriage. This union, which occurred on October 31, 2013, was also the first same-sex marriage to take place at the Supreme Court.[18]


One of Ginsburg's favorite past-times is opera, which she often attends with Antonin Scalia. The pair have attended the opera together many times, which has led to the creation of Scalia/Ginsberg, an opera in which the two justices spar over their constitutional ideology.[19]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ginsburg Biography from the Federal Judicial Center
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2, "U.S. Supreme Court Media: Ruth Bader Ginsburg biography," accessed July 10, 2014
  3. Seton Hall University, "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 20 Years of Supreme Court Jurisprudence," May 1, 2014
  4. Berkeley Law, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Jurisprudence of Opportunity and Equality," January 1, 2014
  5. New York Times, "THE SUPREME COURT: Woman in the News; Rejected as a Clerk, Chosen as a Justice: Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg," June 15, 1993
  6. 6.0 6.1 Supreme Court of the United States, "Current Justice biographies," accessed July 11, 2014
  7. Cornell University, "WRITINGS BY JUSTICE GINSBURG," accessed April 2, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Supreme Court of the United States, "Burwell v. Hobby Lobby," June 30, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  10. Tumblr, "The Notorious RBG," accessed July 31, 2014
  11. Supreme Court of the United States, "Oaths of Office Taken by the Current Court," accessed on September 3, 2013
  12. THOMAS, "Nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to be Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States," accessed June 30, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Senator Charles E. Schumer, "Text of Speech: 'The Myth of the Ginsburg Precedent'," September 1, 2005
  14. Federalist Society, "Precedent from the Confirmation Hearings of Ruth Bader Ginsburg," November 11, 1993
  15. Associated Press, "Ginsburg briefly hospitalized, released Thurs.," October 15, 2009
  16. Washington Post, "Ginsburg Hospitalized For Reaction to Drugs," October 16, 2009
  17. CNN, "Justice Ginsburg released after night in hospital," October 15, 2009
  18. Life Site, "Justices O’Connor, Ginsburg perform same-sex ‘marriage’ ceremonies inside Supreme Court," October 31, 2013
  19., "Scalia V. Ginsburg: Supreme Court Sparring, Put To Music," June 10, 2013
Federal judicial offices
Preceded by:
Byron White
Supreme Court
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Harold Leventhal
DC Circuit Court of Appeals
Succeeded by:
David Tatel