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On Friday, September 18, 2020, the American people received the tragic news that Supreme Court Justice and feminist QUEEN Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away from pancreatic cancer. In the words of my father, “This is so 2020.”

 

When I heard of her passing, I actually felt a little emotional because Ginsburg was not only an American hero, but one of my personal heroes as well.

 

Although I had always known about RBG’s importance as a Supreme Court Justice, growing up I did not know much else about her story. Then in 2018, I went to see the biographical film, On the Basis of Sex, based on Ginsburg’s early life and career, and that is when she became one of my biggest inspirations. I fangirled so hard after seeing that movie that for Christmas, my parents got me a Ruth Bader Ginsburg sticker for my laptop (it’s an illustration of her head and underneath, it says “SUPREME” haha).

 

While many Americans may know about Ginsburg’s trailblazing as an advocate for women and other minorities on the Supreme Court, they may not know about her early life and career or the policies she actually advocated for as a Justice. So, here is a brief timeline (it will not include everything she accomplished, because that would need an entire book) about Queen RGB’s life and the things she did for herself, for women, and for us, the American people. After reading this, she’ll probably be one of your biggest inspirations, too.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg (March 15, 1933 - September 18, 2020)

 

  • 1933 - Born in Brooklyn, NY as Joan Ruth Bader (who knew her first name was Joan :0).

  • 1950 - Met husband Martin Ginsburg at Cornell University (who is played by the uber-handsome Armie Hammer in the movie). They married after graduation.

  • 1954 - Graduated from Cornell University as the highest-ranking female student in her class with a BA in government and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa (the nation’s most prestigious undergrad honor society).

  • 1955 - Demoted from her position in a Social Security office after becoming pregnant.

  • 1956 - Enrolled at Harvard Law School along with her husband Martin. Shortly after enrolling, Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer so she attended both Martin’s classes and her own while taking care of her husband and infant daughter (actually Superwoman).

  • 1959 - Graduated with a law degree from Columbia University (she had to transfer from Harvard) tying as the top student in her class. Despite her success at Columbia, no law firm would hire her because of her sex. 

  • 1961 - Became a research associate and associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure where she conducted research in Sweden and co-authored a book. 

  • 1963 - Became a law professor at Rutgers University. She was paid less than her male colleagues because she had a husband with a good-paying job. She was only 1 of 20 female law professors in the United States.

  • 1970 - Tried the court case Moritz v. Commissioner where a male caretaker was being discriminated against on the basis of sex. She picked this case to try gender-based discrimination because she knew the all-male court would be more likely to sympathize with a male appellant. If she won the court case, she would set a precedent for all gender-based discrimination, inlcuding discrimination of women.

    • After being accused of wanting to create radical social change by the court, she argued that the law needed to keep up with societal roles that had already changed.

    • When a judge made an objection that the Constitution does not say the word “woman,” she argued that it neither contains the word “freedom.”

    • She won the case unanimously and it has set precedent against gender-based discrimination laws ever since

  • 1972 - Co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) that struck down numerous gender-based discrimination laws.

  • 1993 - Appointed as associate justice to the United States Supreme Court where she fought back against gender inequality, bans on abortion rights, unlawful search and seizure, and the rejection of using international law to inform American law.

 

"Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception."

 

Thanks for everything.

Grace Klein

Denison '22

Grace is a senior Educational Studies and History double major with a Women's and Gender Studies minor from a small town in Northeast Ohio. When she's not busy studying or writing for Her Campus, you can find her spending time with family and friends, playing volleyball with her BFFs, listening to country music, or eating choclate chip cookies :)
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