The passing of a legend – an icon – a warrior. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died September 18/2020 from the complications of metastatic cancer of the pancreas. She was 87.
RBG as she was commonly referred to, was born on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York where she grew up. She graduated from Cornell University with a BA in government in 1954. One month later she married Martin Ginsburg who became a prominent tax lawyer. The couple welcomed a daughter Jane in 1955 and later a son James. In 1956 she enrolled at Harvard Law School where she was 1 of 9 women in a class of 500 men. She transferred to Columbia Law School in 1959 when her husband took a job in New York City. She earned her law degree from Columbia in 1959 graduating in a tie for first in her class.
She had difficulty in finding employment and was rejected for a clerkship position, because of her gender, by Supreme Court Justice Felix Frank. Columbia Law Professor Gerald Gunther lobbied Edmund Palmieri of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York on her behalf, threatening to never send another Columbia graduate to him and promising to provide a replacement if she was unsuccessful. RBG began her clerkship with Judge Palmeiri and stayed with him for two years. She was a research associate at Columbia from 1961 to 1963. She became a Professor at Rutgers Law School in 1963 and taught at Columbia Law School. In 1972 she founded the Women’s Rights Project and became the organization’s legal counsel in 1973. She argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, winning five. She proceeded to amass a large winning record of discrimination cases that she argued before various courts, making large advances for women under the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.. Ms. Ginsburg was often compared to Justice Thurgood Marshall, the architect the the Civil Rights Movement’s promotion of racial equality and was also often called the Thurgood Marshall of the Women’s Rights Movement.
In 1980 President Jimmy Carter nominated her for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. She served from June 18, 1980 to August 9, 1993 President Bill Clinton nominated her for the Supreme Court in 1993. She served from August 10, 1993 to the end of her life.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg survived several surgeries for various types of cancer over the years but continued to fight until the day she died. RBG was a legend in her own time, an icon for gender equality and Women’s Rights. Although she was often a voice in the wilderness, she fought long and hard so that others could benefit. Her legend lives on. She will be missed.