Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday following complications from pancreatic cancer, cutting short her intended tenure to age 90. At 87 years old, Ginsburg had served on the court for 27 years.
The RBG Legacy
Born of immigrants, the liberal lawyer got her start at Harvard Law before transferring to Columbia Law School, where she tied for first in her class. She soon became a professor of civil procedure at the law schools of Rutgers and Columbia, at the time representing just 20 female law professors in the country.
In her spare time, Ginsburg served as a volunteer lawyer, board member and general counsel for the ACLU, where she won numerous gender discrimination cases — representing both men and women — before the Supreme Court before eventually rising to the bench herself.
“She became the leading (and very successful) litigator on behalf of women’s rights—the Thurgood Marshall of that cause, so to speak,” former justice Antonin Scalia wrote when Ginsburg made Time’s 100 list.
In 1980, she joined the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit as an appointee under President Jimmy Carter, and then made the leap to the highest court of the land.
A Champion For Women
Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg became the second female justice on the Supreme Court, and between the retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor and hiring of Sonia Sotomayor, she was the only woman.
The gender pioneering dates back to Ginsburg’s earliest stint at Harvard, whose class of 500 included just nine women. After transferring to Columbia, the mother of two became the first woman to serve on two major law reviews.
She co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter as the first U.S. journal dedicated to women’s rights; co-founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project; and co-wrote the first law school casebook on gender discrimination.
Known now for her confidently donned decorative collars, Ginsburg overcame years of discrimination to achieve this level of legal impact — including pay cuts for being pregnant and being married.
Ginsberg’s life recently inspired the biographical movie “Notorious RBG,” as well as an opera, a play, numerous “Saturday Night Live” skits, and the name of a newly identified praying mantis species.
A Final Wish
"Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: 'My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," NPR reported.
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