Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Legendary Supreme Court Justice and Pioneer for Women’s Rights

25 SEPT 2020

Last Friday, the world mourned the passing of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died of cancer at the age of 87.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg 2016 Portrait

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known amongst her young admirers as the"Notorious RBG" will forever be known as a passionate advocate of women's rights, pioneer for civil liberties and believer in the rule of law. Her story is one of overcoming adversity and groundbreaking achievement.

From a Jewish family in Brooklyn, Ginsburg was always a talented student and resilient individual. In 1950, she started her college at Cornell, where she received her B.A. in government studies. While there, she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the highest-ranking female student in her graduating class.

Following her husband’s military service and the birth of her daughter, in 1956 she enrolled at Harvard Law School. At Harvard, Ginsburg balanced life as a mother and as a law student. She also encountered a hostile environment, being one of only 9 women in a class of more than 500. Despite this, she excelled academically, becoming the first woman to appear in the prestigious Harvard Law Review.

Near the end of her degree, Ginsburg transferred from Harvard to Columbia Law School, in order to be able to live in New York City. She graduated top of her class, as well as became the first woman ever to be elected to the Columbia Law Review (appearing on both Columbia and Harvard law reviews in the same year).

After her law school graduation, RBG took up academic positions at Columbia Law School, before becoming a professor of civil procedure at Rutgers Law School. She taught there from 1963 to 1972, and was one of the only women with a teaching opportunity at a US law school. RBG credits her students at Rutgers with sparking her interest in the legal area of gender discrimination, the topic on which she would become an expert and an important litigator in the 1970s. Her organisation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) would participate in more than 300 gender discrimination cases, including six before the US Supreme Court. During this time, she also became the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School.

In many ways, the rest was history. Her leading advocacy eventually led to an appointment to the US Court of Appeals in 1980, and in 1993 appointment to the US Supreme Court by the Clinton administration. She was the second woman ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court.

Since becoming a Supreme Court justice, RBG has given influential speeches at her old schools, as well as at other universities such as Stanford, Brown, Georgetown, UChicago, Amherst, UDC, Brandies, University of Buffalo, Suffolk Law School, New England Law, and American University, among many others.

In these speeches at universities, she often talked about her experiences on the Supreme Court, her pursuits for equal justice and her hopes for the next generation of jurists. She has widely been credited with inspiring thousands of young women, from children to college students to pursue a career in law. This highlights one of the key benefits of studying at a top US university - having the ability to attract inspiring speakers and guest lecturers such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As a student, this can potentially be life changing.

Overall, one of RBG’s most proud achievements is being a part of the way in which universities and law schools have become inclusive institutions.

"I went to law school when women were less than 3% of lawyers in the country; today, they are 50%. I never had a woman teacher in college or in law school. The changes have been enormous. And they've just — they've gone much too far (to be) going back."

We at Crimson Education want to challenge everybody, especially young women to pursue a top education and change the world like Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As the world’s leading university admissions support company, we can also help you get there!

We assist you to find your best-fit university, create a personalised roadmap, ace your standardised tests, craft the perfect essay, build candidacy through extracurriculars, and more. Check out our student success page to find more Q&As and case studies about our successful Crimson students.

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