American lawyer and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg — sometimes playfully referred to as The Notorious RBG — has been a fiery voice for justice on the highest court in the US since 1993. Her presence was key in persuading the court to rule 5-4 in favour of same sex marriage; allowing women to apply to the Virginia Military Institute, the last all-male public university in the US; and in protecting abortion providers.
But it’s when she’s gone against the grain of the court that she’s made most noise. RBG made powerful dissenting opinions on affirmative action, equal pay, the right to vote, and contraception coverage.
“When I’m sometimes asked when will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court] and I say, ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked,” RBG once said, as quoted on the website Carafem. “But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”
Her work and life have inspired biographies, films, and had a significant impact on popular culture. One reporter recently took RBG’s son on a tour of the ‘Notorious RBG’ exhibition, on show until August at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, while another went through then 83-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s training routine, which he wrote “nearly broke me.”
RBG was one of the few women to graduate in her class from Harvard law school. After this, she became a professor at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School, teaching civil procedure.
She was a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and a member of the board of directors. She became an appeals court judge in 1980, before being appointed to the Supreme Court by then-US President Bill Clinton in the early ’90s.
RBG faced not-insignificant backlash for recent comments that backers of the Equal Rights Amendment — a small clause which promises that equality of rights under the law “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex” — should “start over.” While her argument was based on an expired time limit for US states to ratify the law, some supporters of the ERA are concerned that her stance upends a 50 year push for equality which had just begun to regain momentum.Tags: Justice, RBG, Supreme Court, USA