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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice Since 1993, Dies at 87

September 19, 2020 in History

By Erin Blakemore

Known for her judicial restraint and sharp legal mind, Ginsburg delivered some of the Supreme Court’s most influential majority opinions.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a groundbreaking attorney, a lifelong advocate for gender equality, and a civil servant who served as a justice on the Supreme Court for 27 years, died September 18, 2020 due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87 years old.

Her death marked the end of an era for a court indelibly shaped both by her liberal views and her commitment to judicial restraint. Known for both her unwavering beliefs and taste for compromise, Ginsburg’s self-effacing ways and pop culture prowess expanded how the public thought not just of women in power, but the role of a Supreme Court judge.

READ MORE: , a case that involved a man who was appointed his son’s executor because of a law that discriminated against women, before the United States Supreme Court. But she wrote the brief, and the ACLU won the case.

Soon, Ginsburg had taken on a role at the newly founded ACLU Women’s Rights Project. In 1972, the same year she helped cofound the project, she became the first woman to be granted tenure at Columbia Law School.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in New York in 1972, when she was named a professor at Columbia Law School.

Ginsburg chose her battles wisely, often using male plaintiffs to chip away at laws that discriminated against women. She had a strong ally in the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which provided for equal protection by all U.S. laws for all U.S. citizens. Slowly but surely, she used the Equal Protection Clause to attack gender discrimination.

Among her victories were lawsuits that affirmed equality in governmental benefits for people who had served in the military (Frontiero v. Richardson, 1973), surviving spouse benefits (Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, 1975), and jury service (Duren v. Missouri, 1979). Ultimately, Ginsburg argued over 300 gender discrimination cases and appeared before the Supreme Court in six.

In 1980, President Carter nominated Ginsburg to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She was elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 after being nominated by President Clinton. During her confirmation hearings, she notably declined to answer several questions that might at some point come before the Supreme Court, a move now dubbed “the Ginsburg precedent.”

As an Associate Justice, …read more