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The Unstoppable and Notorious RBG

Joan Ruth Bader. You might know her better as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Or, the Notorious RBG, who’s turning 85 years old on March 15. If you know me at all, you know that she’s all I talk about. Here’s why:

The liberal Justice who grew up in the Bronx is the definition of small but mighty. In her biography titled, In My Own Words, Justice Ginsburg recounts her passion for the pursuit of  knowledge and equality from an early age. RBG is one of the biggest gender equality advocates, and has a huge influence on abortion and equal pay cases. Throughout her time spent in court, she’s used her calm tones to firmly place her dissenting opinions. Her dedication to the law, equality, and her own health (despite being in her 80s she does 20 push-ups and 30-second planks everyday because she is unstoppable) are all part of what makes her so ~notorious~.

But as much as all of that sets my little feminist heart on fire, what I’ve always adored most about her is that despite her size, and what she’s been through in life, her heart is somehow even larger than her dissents – and she uses it to make her stronger.

Her mother was a huge influence on her love for learning. Celia Bader worked hard to provide for her brother’s education, and in her freetime took Ruth to the library. Celia died of cancer the day before Ruth’s high school graduation, but this did not stop her from attending Cornell University, where she met her to-be husband Martin Ginsburg. She graduated as the top female in her class, then married Marty a month later. A year after giving birth to her first child, Ruth became one of nine women in a class of about 500 men at Harvard Law School. When Marty took a job in New York, Ruth transferred to Columbia Law, where she became the first woman to be on two major law reviews and tied for first in her class.

But, that’s not all she did during this time. The year after Ruth gave birth to her first child, she entered law school, but that same year Marty was diagnosed with testicular cancer. During this time, Ginsburg attended class and took notes for both herself and for her husband; she would also type up her husband’s dictated papers while caring for him and their daughter. If that wasn’t enough, she even made the Harvard Law Review.

Marty and Ruth had a love unlike any other, making it very difficult for her when he passed away in 2010. But, even this loss did not stop Ruth.

Ruth has battled both colon and pancreatic cancer, and had a stent placed in one of her coronary arteries in 2014. No matter what life has thrown at her, she’s handled it with grace and power. She’s often said that she plans to serve on the Supreme Court for as long as she is of sound mind.

If all of this hasn’t convinced you yet of the magic of the Notorious RBG, I don’t know what will. It’s strange that the mention of this 85-year-old woman makes my heart swell with joy and a sense of possibility, but it truly does. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to become a Supreme Court Justice, but I hope whatever life I lead, I’ll lead it with the same sense of passion, strength, and love as Ruth does. (

Also, one time I was sad and had a dream where she told me to buck up, have fun, and do some push-ups for her… HOW COOL IS THAT?

Happy Birthday, Ruth! May year 85 treat you well, and remember – you can’t spell “truth” without “Ruth!”

P.S. If you’re still not convinced about how awesome she is, watch the trailer for her upcoming documentary!


Header Image: European University Institute

Brittany Sherman is a junior at Penn State, majoring in Criminology with minors in Psychology and Political Science. She is a workaholic, avid TedTalk watcher, and Leslie Knope wannabe. She also makes bomb banana bread, and dreams of casually running into Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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