The most intense political season and election in our lives just got real. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, RGB, the liberal icon who has served on the Supreme Court since 1993 died today at the age of 87. According to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg passed due to complications related to cancer. Stakes in Election 2020 are some of the highest in generations. Adding an open seat on the Supreme Court just electrified the battle. OMG!
Sam Levine, writing in HuffPost, reminded readers Ginsburg was once passed over for a clerkship on the Supreme Court because of her gender. She was the second woman to sit on the nation’s highest court after Sandra Day O’Connor. President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court in 1993 after she had served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1980. From 2006 until 2009, she was the only woman on the Supreme Court.
The Notorious RGB
RGB played a major role in a number of cases that directly impacted women. In 1996, she authored the majority opinion ruling the Virginia Military Institute’s policy of only admitting men violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Ginsburg championed powerful dissents in Gonzales v. Carhart, in which the court upheld a federal ban on so-called “partial-birth” abortions, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties, which allowed closely held corporations to refuse to provide certain contraceptive coverage to employees for religious reasons.
RGB was treated for colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2011. She refused calls to step down from the Supreme Court as she got older. In August 2019, she successfully completed three weeks of radiation treatment after a tumor was discovered in her pancreas. The previous December, she had surgery to remove two malignant nodules in her lung, causing her to miss her first oral arguments since joining the court. She continued working through her recovery, including casting a vote from her hospital bed.
Born Ruth Joan Bader in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, Ginsburg earned her B.A. from Cornell University, where she met her future husband, Martin Ginsburg. The two married in 1954, the same year Ginsburg graduated from college. Ginsburg then enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she was one of nine women in a class of 500 and cared for her daughter while completing her coursework.
After two years at Harvard, Ginsburg finished her degree at Columbia University after Martin received a job in New York. Even though she had completed most of her coursework at Harvard, the law school dean there reportedly refused to grant her a degree, so she earned her law degree from Columbia, where she tied for valedictorian. Harvard eventually gave Ginsburg an honorary degree in 2011.
“Throughout her life she has repeatedly stood for the individual, the person less well-off, the outsider in society, and has given those people greater hope by telling them that they have a place in our legal system, by giving them a sense that the Constitution and the laws protect all the American people, not simply the powerful.”
President Bill Clinton
Statement from Supreme Court
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this evening surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, D.C., due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer. She was 87 years old. Justice Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993. She was the second woman appointed to the Court and served more than 27 years.
She is survived by her two children: Jane Carol Ginsburg (George Spera) and James Steven Ginsburg (Patrice Michaels), four grandchildren: Paul Spera (Francesca Toich), Clara Spera (Rory Boyd), Miranda Ginsburg, Abigail Ginsburg, two step-grandchildren: Harjinder Bedi, Satinder Bedi, and one greatgrandchild: Lucrezia Spera. Her husband, Martin David Ginsburg, died in 2010.
“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr.
Justice Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York, March 15, 1933. She married Martin D. Ginsburg in 1954. She received her B.A. from Cornell University, attended Harvard Law School, and received her LL.B. from Columbia Law School. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Edmund L. Palmieri, Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1959–1961. From 1961–1963, she was a research associate and then associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure.
She was a Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law from 1963–1972, and Columbia Law School from 1972–1980, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California from 1977–1978. In 1971, she was instrumental in launching the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, and served as the ACLU’s General Counsel from 1973–1980, and on the National Board of Directors from 1974–1980. She was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980. During her more than 40 years as a Judge and a Justice, she was served by 159 law clerks.
A private interment service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery.
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