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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Ruth Bader Ginsburg

March 10, 2022

Not every Supreme Court justice becomes an icon — it’s pretty much just the late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Here are some fast facts about RBG to celebrate the release of our new Word Cloud Classic, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dissents. 

What is Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s real name?

It’s not Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her name upon birth in 1933 was Joan Ruth Bader; she went by Ruth because there were several other girls in her first grade class named Joan.

Where did Ruth Bader Ginsburg go to school?

Ruth Bader completed her undergraduate education at the prestigious Cornell University in 1954. That’s where she met Martin Ginsburg, and after getting married and having her first child, Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to school — admitted into the even more prestigious Harvard Law School, one of just nine women in a class of 500, then transferring to a third Ivy League school, Columbia. She graduated first in her class and served on the Columbia Law Review, the first woman to do so.

What were some of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s first accomplishments?

Still one of the very few women in her field and facing daunting levels of sexism and discrimination, Ginsburg had trouble finding work after finishing law school, as firms and university law departments were reluctant to hire a Jewish woman with children at home. Nevertheless, she persisted and in 1963 became the second female professor at Rutgers Law School. When she found out she was being paid far less than a male colleague with the same job, she filed a complaint with the Equal Pay Act…and won. Years later at Rutgers, Ginsburg started the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first legal journal in the U.S. about women’s rights and women’s issues.

Then Ginsburg started fighting even harder for the rights of women. In 1972, after the American Civil Liberties Union kept sending gender discrimination lawsuits her way, she founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. Over the course of the 1970s, Ginsburg argued such cases in front of the Supreme Court six times, winning five of them.

Where was Ruth Bader Ginsburg a judge before the Supreme Court?

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the Washington, D.C. circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, one of the highest federal judicial positions in the country. After 13 years of hearing cases of all kinds on the court, one of the last stops before the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was called all the way up to the highest courtroom in the land. In 1993, President Bill Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court, making her the second-ever woman to serve there.

What was Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s most important Supreme Court case?

In 1996 U.S. v. Virginia, a case challenging the Virginia Military Institute’s males-only admissions policy, reached the Supreme Court. Because it’s a state funded institution, Ginsburg argued, the school would have to admit women under anti-discrimination laws, and potentially leading to an end to non co-ed publicly funded schools nationwide. Another major ruling in Ginsburg’s tenure: Obergefell v. Hodges. The 2015 case helped overturn states’ bans on same-sex marriages, ultimately making them legal and recognized nationwide.

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