Joan Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an American lawyer, and jurist was born on March 15, 1933, and served on the United States Supreme Court as an associate justice from 1993 until her death in 2020.
President Bill Clinton nominated her to replace retiring Justice Byron White, and she was widely regarded as a moderate consensus builder at the time. As the Court swung to the right over time, she eventually became a member of the liberal wing.
After Sandra Day O’Connor, Ginsburg was the first Jewish woman and the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Among the important majority rulings, Ginsburg wrote during her term was the United States v. Virginia (1996), Olmstead v. L.C. (1999), Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc. (2000), and City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York (2005).
Ginsburg was born and raised in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York City. Her mother died just before Ginsburg graduated from high school, and her older sister died while she was a newborn. She graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree and married Martin D. Ginsburg, becoming a mother before enrolling in Harvard Law School, where she was one of the few women in her class.
Between her retirement in 2006 and the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor in 2009, O’Connor was the Supreme Court’s lone female justice. Ginsburg’s dissents were more strident during this time, most notably in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (2007).
Despite two bouts with disease and public requests from liberal legal professors, she refused to step down in 2013 or 2014, when Democrats could pick her replacement. Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020, at the age of 87, in her home in Washington, D.C.
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