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March 15: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Lawrence Bush
March 15, 2010

Ruth Bader Ginsburg-06Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman in history to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, was born in Brooklyn on this day in 1933. In 1954, she was one of nine women in a class of more than 500 at Harvard Law (where she was tagged with the nickname “Ruthless Ruthie”), before graduating at the top of her class at Columbia Law in 1959. Ginsburg served as the American Civil Liberties Union’s general counsel from 1973 to 1980 and was the founder and chief litigator for the ACLU’s Womens Rights Project, through which she worked successfully to change laws nationwide to reduce gender discrimination in hiring and to prevent women from being fired for being pregnant. On the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg has written opinions striking down the men-only admission policy of the Virginia Military Institute (1996); striking down legislation that banned “indecent” Internet content (1996); protecting authors’ rights to control their material for online use (2001); and forbidding solitary judges from sentencing prisoners to death (2002). She dissented vociferously from the majority decision in Bush v. Gore (2000), writing that “the Court’s conclusion that a constitutionally adequate recount is impractical is a prophecy the Court’s own judgment will not allow to be tested. Such an untested prophecy should not decide the Presidency of the United States.”
“The demand for justice runs through the entirety of the Jewish tradition. I hope, in my years on the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, I will have the strength and the courage to remain constant in the service of that demand.” —Ruth Bader Ginsburg

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.