She’s the subject of a documentary and a biographical drama and the face of the women’s rights movement. Her face and name, or at least her nickname, the Notorious RBG, is on coffee mugs, T-shirts, and anything else you can want or need.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg has proven herself a feminist icon and trailblazer throughout her life and career in law. Ginsburg has faced systemic gender discrimination since she began her education in the 1950s through today, but, regardless, has reached one of the highest positions available in the American judicial system. Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959 and, unable to find a meaningful position at a law firm in New York, took a position as a law professor as the women’s movement began.
“There I was, a law school professor with time that I could devote to moving along this change,” said Ginsburg in an interview with NPR.
Ginsburg directed the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) where she led the efforts against gender discrimination “to strike down gender classifications as unconstitutional, as a denial of equal protection of the laws.” She would represent cases where men were being harmed by the gender classifications like, for example, in the case of a dependent’s allowance for the husband of an Air Force lieutenant, in order to remove the language that discriminated according to gender.
After winning many cases of this type, Ginsburg was appointed to the D.C. U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980 and later the Supreme Court in 1993. Since being on the bench, Ginsburg has faced an increasing amount of scorn, especially as she ages and experiences health issues.
Now 86, Ginsburg has had three major cancer diagnoses, the most recent in the last year. Her run-ins with health concerns cause panic among some and eagerness in others, but Ginsburg assures those concerned that she is going nowhere for the time being.
“The work is really what saved me,” Ginsburg told NPR. “I had to get past whatever my aches and pains were just to do the job.”
Ginsburg is surprising many with her resiliency throughout the years, including an unnamed senator that she said, “announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months. That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I am very much alive.”
Ginsburg continues to be a resounding voice on the Supreme Court for women’s rights and social justice. Keep fighting the good fight, RBG.