Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the court’s second female justice as well as the first Jewish female justice. She was initially nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993, replacing retiring justice Byron White. At the time, she was viewed as a moderate consensus-builder. Ginsburg eventually became a key piece to the liberal wing of the Court as the system shifted over time. She was considered part of the Supreme Court’s moderate-liberal bloc, having a strong voice in favor of gender equality, labor rights for workers and the separation of church and state. Today, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would have been 88 years old, and we remember her for being one of the goats of modern day politics with a conscious pursuit of justice for all.
Ginsburg has inspired a new generation of women who follow in her footsteps using their platforms to create change for minorities. There have even been films made about the work Ruth Bader Ginsburg has done in her lifetime. Hulu’s RBG is an intimate portrayal of an “unlikely rockstar.” The documentary filmmakers were granted unprecedented access to explore her early legal battles, which ultimately changed the world for women. In 2018, On the Basis of Sex was released, and the film followed Ginsburg, a struggling attorney and new mother, who faced adversity and a number of obstacles in her fight toward equal rights. Ruth takes on a groundbreaking tax case with her husband, attorney Martin Ginsburg, she realizes it could change the direction of her career and the way courts view gender discrimination.
Women’s History Month continues celebrating a woman who fought the hardest for women’s rights in America. Though there are a few films that document the pivotal changes Ginsburg made during her time in the Supreme Court, there are a few facts you may not know about the change maker.
1. The day before Ginsburg’s high school graduation ceremony, her mother passed away. Ruth missed the ceremony to grieve with her father, but continued to honor her mother’s memory through hard work and academic excellence.
2. Ruth Bader met her husband, Martin Ginsburg when she was seventeen. They met as undergraduate students at Cornell University, though they were both born in Brooklyn. They married a few days after her graduation and remained married for 56 years until he passed away in 2010.
3. Ruth and her husband, affectionately known as Marty, were not only best friends, but had a marriage notable in its time for being based in equality and partnership. They split housework, childcare, and cooking.
4. While Ginsburg and her husband were both attending Harvard Law School, he became sick with cancer. Ruth took care of him and their infant daughter all while attending classes and keeping her husband caught up with his schoolwork as well.
5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for women in the workplace because she knows of the struggles of working mothers firsthand. When she learned that she was pregnant with her second child, she wore baggy clothes until her contract as a professor at Rutgers University Law School was renewed out of concern for discriminatory employment practices.
6. Even though Sandra Day O’Connor sat on the U.S. Supreme Court for twelve years before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed, the court did not have a women’s bathroom until Ginsburg pointed it out.
7. Despite their conflicting political views, Justice Ginsberg and the late Justice Antonin Scalia were close friends and shared a love of the opera. They appeared as extras in a party scene of Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos” in 2009. There is even an opera that was written about their friendship called Scalia/Ginsburg by Derrick Wang.
8. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was known for her “jabots” or collars that she wore over her judicial robes. Sandra Day O’Connor and Ginsburg decided that since the traditional robes accommodate for showing a man’s shirt and tie, as women, they would wear something that put their own twist on the style.
9. In school, Ruth Bader Ginsburg played the cello, was a member of the honor society, and was a baton twirler amongst other things.
10. “Ruth” is not actually Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s first name. She was born Joan Ruth Bader in 1933 to Nathan and Celia Bader in Brooklyn. When it was time to enroll her daughter in school, Celia Bader learned that there were a number of girls named “Joan” in the class, so they opted to call her “Ruth” to avoid confusion.