kids encyclopedia robot

Ruth Bader Ginsburg facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ginsburg seated in her robe
Official portrait, 2016
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
In office
August 10, 1993 – September 18, 2020
Nominated by Bill Clinton
Preceded by Byron White
Succeeded by Amy Coney Barrett
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
In office
June 30, 1980 – August 9, 1993
Nominated by Jimmy Carter
Preceded by Harold Leventhal
Succeeded by David Tatel
Personal details
Joan Ruth Bader

(1933-03-15)March 15, 1933
Brooklyn, New York City, U.S.
Died September 18, 2020(2020-09-18) (aged 87)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Cause of death Complications from pancreatic cancer
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
(m. 1954; died 2010)
  • Jane
  • James
Education Cornell University (BA)
Harvard University
Columbia University (LLB)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020), also known by her initials RBG, was an American jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until she died in 2020. She was nominated to the position by President Bill Clinton and belonged to the liberal wing of the Court.

Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court after Sandra Day O'Connor. Following O'Connor's retirement in 2006 and until Sonia Sotomayor joined the Court in 2009, she was the only female justice on the Supreme Court.

She died at her home in Washington, D.C., on September 18, 2020, from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87.

Early life and education

Joan Ruth Bader was born on March 15, 1933, at Beth Moses Hospital in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. She was the second daughter of Celia (née Amster) and Nathan Bader, who lived in the Flatbush neighborhood. Her father was a Jewish emigrant from Odesa, Ukraine, at that time part of the Russian Empire, and her mother was born in New York to Jewish parents who came from Kraków, Poland, at that time part of Austria-Hungary.

The Baders' elder daughter Marylin died of meningitis at age six. Joan, who was 14 months old when Marylin died, was known to the family as "Kiki", a nickname Marylin had given her for being "a kicky baby."

When Joan started school, Celia discovered that her daughter's class had several other girls named Joan, so Celia suggested the teacher call her daughter by her second name, Ruth, to avoid confusion.

The Bader family belonged to East Midwood Jewish Center, a Conservative synagogue, where Ruth learned tenets of the Jewish faith and gained familiarity with the Hebrew language. Starting as a camper from the age of four, she attended Camp Che-Na-Wah, a Jewish summer program at Lake Balfour near Minerva, New York, where she was later a camp counselor until the age of eighteen.

Celia took an active role in her daughter's education, often taking her to the library. Celia had been a good student in her youth and graduated from high school at age 15. Yet she could not further her own education because her family instead chose to send her brother to college. Celia wanted her daughter to get more education, which she thought would allow Ruth to become a high school history teacher. Ruth attended James Madison High School, whose law program later dedicated a courtroom in her honor. Celia struggled with cancer throughout Ruth's high school years and died the day before Ruth's high school graduation.

RBG Columbia
Ginsburg in 1959, wearing her Columbia Law School academic regalia

Ruth Bader attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and was a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi. She graduated from Cornell with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government on June 23, 1954. While at Cornell, Bader studied under Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, and she later identified Nabokov as a major influence on her development as a writer. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the highest-ranking female student in her graduating class.

At age 21, Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked for the Social Security Administration office in Oklahoma.

In the fall of 1956, Ruth Bader Ginsburg enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she was one of only 9 women in a class of about 500 men. The dean of Harvard Law, Erwin Griswold, reportedly invited all the female law students to dinner at his family home and asked the female law students, including Ginsburg, "Why are you at Harvard Law School, taking the place of a man?" When that same dean denied Ginsburg's request to complete her third year towards a Harvard law degree at Columbia Law School in New York, she transferred to Columbia and became the first woman to be on two major law reviews: the Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review. In 1959, she earned her law degree at Columbia and tied for first in her class.

Legal career

RB Ginsburg 1977 ©Lynn Gilbert
Ginsburg in 1977, photographed by Lynn Gilbert

She was a professor at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School, as one of the few women in her field of teaching civil procedure (rules courts use in civil court).

Ginsburg spent a large part of her legal career pushing for gender equality and women's rights. She was a volunteer attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsels in the 1970s.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where she served until she was appointed to the Supreme Court. Ginsburg received attention in American popular culture for her fiery liberal disagreements and stubbornness.

Supreme Court

Chief Justice William Rehnquist Administers the Oath of Office to Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Associate Supreme Court Justice at the White House - NARA - 131493872
Chief Justice William Rehnquist swearing in Ginsburg as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, as her husband Martin Ginsburg and President Clinton watch

Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She was the second female justice (after Sandra Day O'Connor) and the first Jewish female justice. Ginsburg was considered a liberal member of the Supreme Court.

When John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, Ginsburg became the oldest justice on the court at age 77.

Personal life

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband Martin D. Ginsburg in 2009
Martin and Ruth Ginsburg at a White House event, 2009

A few days after Bader graduated from Cornell, she married Martin D. Ginsburg. When she joined the D.C. Circuit, the couple moved from New York to Washington, D.C., where her husband became a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.

After the birth of their daughter, Martin was diagnosed with cancer. During this period, Ginsburg attended class and took notes for both of them, typed her husband's dictated papers, and cared for their daughter and her sick husband.

Their daughter, Jane C. Ginsburg (b. 1955), is a professor at Columbia Law School. Their son, James Steven Ginsburg (b. 1965), is the founder and president of Cedille Records, a classical music recording company based in Chicago, Illinois. Ginsburg was a grandmother of four. Martin and Ruth celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary on June 23, 2010. Martin Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic cancer on June 27, 2010.

Health and death

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Memorial (50401877182)
Ginsburg was honored in a ceremony in Statuary Hall, and she became the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol, September 25, 2020.

Ginsburg had surgery for colon cancer in 1999 and for pancreatic cancer in 2009. On November 8, 2018, she was hospitalized after fracturing three ribs in a fall.

Ginsburg underwent radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer during the summer of 2019. In July 2020, she announced that she had liver cancer.

Ginsburg died from complications of pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020, at age 87. She died on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Five days after her death, the eight Supreme Court justices, Ginsburg's children, and other family members held a private ceremony for Ginsburg in the court's great hall. Following the private ceremony, due to COVID-19 pandemic conditions prohibiting the usual lying in repose in the great hall, Ginsburg's casket was moved outdoors to the court's west portico so the public could pay respects. She was the first woman and first Jew to lie in state (not in honor, which is a right reserved for private citizens) at the Capitol. On September 29, Ginsburg was buried beside her husband in Arlington National Cemetery.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes

  • "You can disagree without being disagreeable."
  • "It bothers me when people say to make it to the top of the tree you have to give up a family."
  • "As long as I can do the job full steam, I will stay here."
  • "Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time."

Interesting facts about Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • Ruth was not Ginsburg's first name. She was born Joan Ruth Bader.
  • Ginsburg was nicknamed “Kiki" because she would never stop kicking when she was a baby.
  • Ruth's mother often took her to the library and instilled in her a devotion to learning.
  • Despite their conflicting political views, Justice Ginsberg and the late Justice Antonin Scalia were friends and shared a love of the opera.
  • She appeared as an extra in two Washington Opera productions, once in a powdered wig and full costume and once as herself.
  • Ginsburg failed her driver’s test the first five times she took it.
  • In 1965, she hid her second pregnancy by wearing oversized clothing.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg is known for her “jabots” or collars that she wore over her judicial robes.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Ruth Bader Ginsburg para niños

kids search engine
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.