Happy birthday, Ruth Bader Ginsburg!
Not only is this fierce female the second woman to be appointed as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, but she has also spent her entire political career being a top advocate for women's rights.
Born on March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York, Ginsburg grew up in a modest low-income family, where she was instilled with the importance of obtaining a good education. Although Ginsberg's mother, Celia, never attended college herself, she selflessly worked at a garment factory to pay for her own brother's college education.
In 1954, Ginsburg earned her Bachelor's degree in Government from Cornell University. That same year, she married Harvard law student Martin D. Ginsburg and gave birth to their daughter, Jane. Shortly after Jane was born, Martin was drafted into the military, where he would serve for the next two years, leaving Ginsburg to parent alone.
Upon Martin's return, Ginsburg was accepted into Harvard Law School, where she was forced to adapt in a hostile, male dominated environment. In her class, there were only 9 out of 500 females. Although she was consistently met with harassment and discriminatory comments from her fellow male classmates, Ginsburg excelled, becoming the first female member of the Harvard Law Review.
After her husband obtained a job in New York City, Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School, where she graduated first of her class in 1959. Now seeking employment, Ginsburg was faced with gender discrimination in spite of her exemplary academic achievements.
After two years spent clerking for U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri, Ginsburg became a professor at Rutgers University Law School. In 1972--after nine years at Rutgers--Ginsberg began teaching at Columbia Law School, where she became the school's first tenured female professor.
During the 1970s, Ginsberg acted as the director of the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, where she took on gender equality and argued six cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, and in 1980 President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she presides to this day.
Throughout her career, Ginsburg has proven that she is a force to be reckoned with. Today, at age 84, she has never missed a day of oral arguments and has continued to fight for gender equality. In 2009 she worked closely with President Obama to pass the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and allows for an equal pay lawsuit to be filed after each paycheck. A copy of the legislation hangs proudly in her office.
Ginsburg has no intention of retiring anytime soon and plans to continue to fight for equality for all: “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”
(image via Slate)
Thank you, Ruth, and happy birthday!