Honestly, I have been contemplating this article for months. Since Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on September 18, 2020, I have known I wanted to write this article. For months I’ve questioned what to write. What would be good enough to honor RBG? Eventually, I decided to write about her accomplishments because plenty of people have heard of the Notorious RBG, but not many know about her many accomplishments. RBG accomplished much in her lifetime, but here are five of her largest accomplishments:
- She Was One of the First Women to Attend Law School
In 1956, Ginsburg started studying at Harvard Law School. At this time, few women studied law. Ginsburg was one of only nine women in a class of 500 at Harvard. As a woman studying law, she was frowned upon; one professor even told her that she was taking a spot at Harvard that could be filled by a man. She proved him wrong – she was granted a spot on both the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review, and she graduated first in her class at Columbia Law School.
- She Attended Law School While Caring for her Family
While she was taking rigorous law classes, serving on the law review, and staying at the top of her class, Ginsburg was also taking care of her family. She gave birth to her first child in 1955, the year before she entered law school. As she studied and took care of her children, RBG also had to help her husband Martin Ginsburg in law school. Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1956, so Ruth helped him stay up-to-date. When Martin was offered a job for a law firm in New York, Ruth transferred from Harvard to Columbia to keep her family together.
- She Was an Excellent Teacher
In addition to being excellent at studying law, Ginsburg was also great at teaching it. She taught at Rutgers University Law School from 1963 to 1972, and she taught at Columbia Law School from 1972 until 1980, when President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Ginsburg was the first woman to ever be granted tenure at Columbia Law School.
- She Started the ACLU Women’s Rights Project
In 1972, Ginsburg started the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project. As director of the project, Ginsburg argued six cases on gender equality in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, winning five. Ginsburg succeeded in these cases by demonstrating that men, not just women, were harmed by gender discrimination; she won Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld by arguing that the Social Security Act favored widows while discriminating against widowers.
- She Was the U.S. Supreme Court’s Second Female Justice and First Jewish Female Justice
After she served thirteen years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg was only the second female justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, and she was the first-ever Jewish female justice. On the Supreme Court, Ginsburg proved she was worthy of the job. As Justice, Ginsburg was unafraid to share her opinions, becoming known for her powerful dissents. A professor had once told her that as a woman, she did not belong in law school, but Ginsburg proved him wrong by rising to the highest judicial office in the country.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg will always be a hero to me. She was unafraid to share her opinions, always fighting for what she knew was right. RBG taught me that my gender does not dictate my abilities or power to invoke change. As a girl with aspirations in politics, this was an important lesson for me, and it is one I will always remember.