born 1933

She became the second woman appointed to the US Supreme Court, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg actually had a tough time finding a job after graduating from law school. Despite being the first female member of the prestigious Harvard Law Review with a personal recommendation from the dean, Ruth found that law firms + even Supreme Court justices only wanted to hire men.  

Steeled in part by this experience, Ruth created the ACLU's Women's Rights Project while a professor at Rutgers {and later Columbia} in the 1970s. She argued several successful discrimination cases before the Supreme Court ~ shrewdly picking male plaintiffs to demonstrate, she says, that "rigid gender lines in the law hurt everybody."

On the bench today, Ruth is known as cautious adjudicator, who retains a commitment to gender equality + civil rights. This has earned her a youthful fan base {and spoofs on tumbler + Saturday Night Live}, even if it often puts her in the minority. But Ruth remains optimistic. " I do hope," she says. "that some of my dissents will one day be law."

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Ruth Bader Ginsburg (20)

"No one ever expected me to go to law school. I was supposed to be a high school teacher, or how else could I earn a living?"

Columbia Snares a Prize in the Quest for Women Professors | january 1972

"The greatest figures of the American judiciary have been independent thinking individuals with open but not empty minds—individuals willing to listen and to learn."

Ruth Bader GInsburg {as quoted in President's Announcement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Nomination} | june 1993

"The announcement the President just made is significant, I believe, because it contributes to the end of the days when women, at least half the talent pool in our society, appear in high places only as one-at-a-time performers."

The Supreme Court: Transcript of the President's Announcement and Judge Ginsburg's Remarks | june 1993

"The law must stop using sex as a shorthand for functional description. It must deal with the parent, not the mother; with the homemaker, not the housewife; and with the surviving spouse, not the widow."

reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer | july 1993

"I continue to aim for opinions that will, get it right and keep it tight, without undue digressions or decorations or distracting denunciations of colleagues with different views."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Annual Dinner of the American Law Institute | may 1994

"Dissents speak to a future age."

Ruth Ginsburg Speak with NPR's Nina Totenberg | may 2002

"The notion that men are this way (frogs, snails, puppy dog tails) and women are that way (sugar, spice, everything nice) ends up hurting both sexes."

Particular Passions: Ruth Bader Ginsburg | january 2012

"I don't pretend to be neutral when I am not. I like the students to understand that most of us have a perspective... but that it's important to disclose one's biases."

Particular Passions: Ruth Bader Ginsburg | january 2012

"Suppose I had gotten a job as a permanent associate. Probably I would have climbed up the ladder and today I would be a retired partner. So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune"

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Legal Pioneer | june 2012

"It is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."

Court is One of Most Activist,' Ginsburg Says, Vowing to Stay | june 2013

"I would like my granddaughters, when they pick up the constitution, to see that notion that women and men are persons of equal stature. I'd like them to see that that is a basic principle of our society."

Justices Scalia and Ginsburg on the First Amendment and Freedom | april 2014

"The change in what girls can aspire to do and achieve has been just exhilarating."

Justices Scalia and Ginsburg on the First Amendment and Freedom | april 2014

"I don't think the rest of the world is regarding our legislature, at the current moment, as a model to be followed."

Justices Scalia and Ginsburg on the First Amendment and Freedom | april 2014

"You can't have it all, all at once."

Katie Couric Interviews Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Hobby Lobby Dissent | june 2014

"[T]ake several deep breaths and remember that tempers momentarily aroused generally subside like a summer storm."

with Katie Couric | july 2014

"I am ever hopeful that if the court has a blind spot today, its eyes will be open tomorrow."

with Katie Couric | july 2014

"I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam. When I feel myself slipping, when I can no longer think as sharply, write as quickly […] that will be the time for me to leave the court."

with Katie Couric | july 2014

"If a judge is called an activist, you know the person saying that doesn't like the decision."

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I'm Not Going Anywhere | september 2014

"At my advanced age—I’m now an octogenarian—I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who want to take my picture."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an American Hero | september 2014

"People who think you could wave a magic wand, and the legacy of the past is over, are blind."

Irin Carmon's Interview with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg | february 2015
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curated with care by Kathleen Murray {april 2015}