RBG has been on the federal bench for twenty-five years. In 1993, she became the second woman ever to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Throughout that time she has continued to be a leading voice for gender equality, women’s interests, and civil rights and liberties
Ginsburg was born Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York. The second daughter of Nathan and Celia Bader, she grew up in a low-income, working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn. Ginsburg’s mother, who was a major influence in her life, taught her the value of independence and a good education.
Sadly, her mother struggled with cancer throughout Ginsburg’s high school years and died the day before Ginsburg’s graduation.
Ginsburg earned her bachelor’s degree in government from Cornell University in 1954, finishing first in her class. She married law student Martin D. Ginsburg that same year. The early years of their marriage were challenging, as their first child, Jane, was born shortly after Martin was drafted into the military in 1954. He served for two years and, after his discharge, the couple returned to Harvard, where Ginsburg also enrolled.
At Harvard, Ginsburg learned to balance life as a mother and her new role as a law student. She also encountered a very male-dominated, hostile environment, with only eight other females in her class of more than 500. The women were chided by the law school’s dean for taking the places of qualified males. But Ginsburg pressed on and excelled academically, eventually becoming the first female member of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.
As a judge, Ginsburg favored caution, moderation and restraint. She was considered part of the Supreme Court’s moderate-liberal bloc presenting a strong voice in favor of gender equality, the rights of workers and the separation of church and state. In 1996 Ginsburg wrote the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Virginia, which held that the state-supported Virginia Military Institute could not refuse to admit women. In 1999 she won the American Bar Association’s Thurgood MarshallAward for her contributions to gender equality and civil rights.
In 2015, Ginsburg sided with the majority in two landmark Supreme Court rulings. On June 25th she was one of the six justices to uphold a critical component of the 2010 Affordable Care Act — often referred to as Obamacare — in King v. Burwell. The decision allows the federal government to continue providing subsidies to Americans who purchase health care through “exchanges,” regardless of whether they are state or federally operated. The majority ruling, read by Chief Justice John Roberts, was a massive victory for President Barack Obama and made the Affordable Care Act difficult to undo.