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Sep 19, 2020 25 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, feminist pioneer and progressive icon, dies at 87. From @AHoweBlogger…
Born Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933, she was quickly nicknamed “Kiki” by her older sister Marilyn, who died in 1934 of meningitis at the age of 6. Neither of her parents attended college: Her father, Nathan, came to the US from Russia as a teenager and worked as a furrier.
Her mother, Celia Amster Bader, was born a few months after her parents arrived in the country from Austria and worked in a garment factory. Her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer around the time Ginsburg began 9th grade and died 2 days before her high school graduation.
After arriving at Cornell, she met Martin (Marty) Ginsburg on a blind date. Marty Ginsburg was, Ginsburg said, “the first boy I knew who cared that I had a brain.”
During law school, Marty Ginsburg was diagnosed with testicular cancer, requiring two surgeries & radiation therapy. Ruth Ginsburg cared not only for their daughter Jane then a toddler, but also for Marty, and typed his papers for him while keeping up with her own coursework.
Although Ruth Ginsburg had completed two years at Harvard, her degree would come from Columbia, where she graduated at the top of her class. She was the first person to be a member of both the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review.
Despite her top grades at Columbia, no law firm in NY would hire Ginsburg after graduation. Many years later she observed that she had “struck out on 3 grounds. I was Jewish, a woman, & a mother. The 1st raised one eyebrow; the 2nd, two; the 3rd made me indubitably inadmissible.”
Ginsburg’s second child, James, was born in 1965. Because she did not yet have tenure at Rutgers & feared that she might not be rehired if the school knew she was expecting, she hid her pregnancy by borrowing her mother-in-law’s larger clothes until her contract was renewed.
Ginsburg argued 6 cases before SCOTUS, winning 5. Her 1st argument came in 1973, in the case of Sharron Frontiero, an Air Force lieutenant who challenged a federal benefits law that treated married female members of the armed forces less favorably than their male counterparts.
A major part of the strategy employed by Ginsburg and the ACLU was using men as plaintiffs to challenge gender-based classifications. She said, “the men were complaining about discrimination rooted in a certain way of thinking about women — as dependents, much like children,
subservient to the male head of the household,” but these cases also “helped judges — who, in those days, were almost uniformly male — to understand that” these distinctions also harmed men and children.
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. During her time on the D.C. Circuit, she began what many regarded as an unlikely friendship with Antonin Scalia, then a judge on the D.C. Circuit.
In a 2007 interview, Scalia said that he and Ginsburg were “two people who are quite different in their core beliefs, but who respect each other’s character and ability. There is nobody else I spend every New Year’s Eve with.”
In a ceremony in the Rose Garden on June 14, 1993, President Clinton nominated Ginsburg to succeed White. In her speech accepting the nomination, Ginsburg paid tribute to her mother. Calling her “the bravest and strongest person I have known, who was taken from me much too soon”
Since Ginsburg’s confirmation hearing, both nominees and senators have invoked the “Ginsburg rule” to explain why nominees ought not discuss their positions on cases or questions that might come before the court. On Aug. 3, 1993, she was confirmed by a vote of 96-3.
Ginsburg wrote relatively few major opinions. 1 notable exception—the decision holding that Virginia Military Institute’s policy of admitting only men violated the Constitution’s equal protection clause, which requires people in similar situations to receive the same treatment.
“However ‘liberally’ this plan serves the Commonwealth’s sons,” Ginsburg observed, “it makes no provision whatever for her daughters. That is not equal protection.”
Ginsburg sometimes influenced decisions even when she didn’t write them. In 2009, the justices ruled 8-1 that officials at an AZ middle school violated the Constitution when they conducted a strip search of a 13-year-old girl suspected of having prescription-strength ibuprofen.
At the oral argument in the case, Ginsburg’s male colleagues didn't seem particularly troubled by the search. Justice Breyer observed that students had to strip down to their underwear to change for gym class. He asked, “How bad is this?”
In a rare interview with USA Today after the argument, Ginsburg – who at the time was the only woman on the court – chastised the other justices, emphasizing that “[t]hey have never been a 13-year-old girl.”
But it was Ginsburg’s dissents – and the ornamental collars, known as jabots, that she wore over her judicial robes on the days that her dissents were announced – for which she was arguably best known.

She has described dissents as “appealing to the intelligence of a future day”
She read her dissent from the court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder from the bench. “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked & is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
On March 4, the court heard oral argument in a challenge to a Louisiana law that required doctors who perform abortions in that state to have the right to admit patients at nearby hospitals. At the conclusion of the argument in the abortion case
most of the justices left the courtroom quickly, no doubt eager to escape the public gaze. But, as had become his custom during the 2019-20 term, Justice Thomas—Ginsburg’s neighbor on the bench—waited to extend a hand to Ginsburg as she made her way carefully down the steps
leading away from the bench. The reporters sitting in the press section craned their necks to watch them leave, and Ginsburg’s tiny figure disappeared behind the curtain. For most of us, it was the last time we would see her in the courtroom. -@AHoweBlogger


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More from @SCOTUSblog

Dec 6, 2022
TODAY AT SCOTUS: It's a day of fraud at the Supreme Court.

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TODAY AT SCOTUS: At 9:30 a.m. EST, the court will issue orders on pending petitions. Starting at 10, the justices will hear two oral arguments. One's on a clash between anti-discrimination laws and free speech for businesses. The other's on a technical question of bankruptcy law.
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Today at SCOTUS: Two oral arguments about where and how people can bring a lawsuit. In one case, a worker is trying to sue his company because he was exposed to asbestos. In the second, a woman wants to sue a nursing home over its treatment of her deceased husband.
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And here's our symposium in which a diverse group of experts and advocates weighed in on the issues at stake:…
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