Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Joan Bader Ginsburg (born March 15, 1933) is an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. Ginsburg was appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton with the support of Republican Judiciary Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch in 1993 and generally votes with the liberal wing of the court. She is the second female Justice — Sandra Day O'Connor being the first — and the first Jewish woman to serve on the Court.

Ginsburg spent a considerable portion of her career as an advocate for the equal citizenship status of women and men as a constitutional principle. She engaged in advocacy as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsel in the 1970s. She served as a professor at Rutgers School of Law—Newark and Columbia Law School. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

President Bill Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on June 14, 1993, to fill the seat vacated by retiring Justice Byron White. Ginsburg was recommended to Clinton by then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

During her subsequent testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the confirmation hearings, she refused to answer questions regarding her personal views on most issues or how she would adjudicate certain hypothetical situations as a Supreme Court Justice. A number of Senators on the committee came away frustrated, with unanswered questions about how Ginsburg planned to make the transition from an advocate for causes she personally held dear, to a justice on the Supreme Court, the highest court in America. Despite this, Ginsburg refused to discuss her beliefs about the limits and proper role of jurisprudence, saying, "Were I to rehearse here what I would say and how I would reason on such questions, I would act injudiciously".

At the same time, Ginsburg did answer questions relating to some potentially controversial issues. For instance, she affirmed her belief in a constitutional right to privacy, and explicated at some length on her personal judicial philosophy and thoughts regarding gender equality. The U.S. Senate confirmed her by a 96-to-3 vote and she took her seat on August 10, 1993.

Ginsburg characterizes her performance on the Court as a cautious approach to adjudication, and argued in a speech shortly before her nomination to the Court that "measured motions seem to me right, in the main, for constitutional as well as common law adjudication. Doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped, experience teaches, may prove unstable." Ginsburg has urged that the Court allow for dialogue with elected branches, while others argue that would inevitably lead to politicizing the Court.¹

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes

"The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality."

"Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation."

"My mother told me two things constantly. One was to be a lady and the other was to be independent, and the law was something most unusual for those times because for most girls growing up in the '40s, the most important degree was not your B.A. but your M.R.S."

"Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that changed their abortion laws before Roe are not going to change back. So we have a policy that only affects poor women, and it can never be otherwise."

"Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."

Noteworthy Sites

¹ Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Books on The Supreme Court
All Supreme Court Posters & Prints
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Biographical Profile


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