Ruth Bader Ginsberg



Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Nathan, was a furrier and her mother, Celia, had a strong passion for reading, language and love of books. Ruth had an older sister, Marilyn, who died of Meningitis. She attended James Madison High School, where she was a cheerleader, baton twirler, played the cello and was editor of the school paper. Graduating top of her class in grammar and high school, she went on to Cornell University, earning her bachelors in government. In 1954 she married Martin D. Ginsburg, now a professor of tax law at Georgetown University Law Center. They enrolled together in Harvard Law School. She then wrote material on sex-based discrimination after being personally discriminated against when she told her employer she was pregnant and received a three – level pay decrease. Ruth then had two children: Jane C (a professor at Columbia Law School) and James S (a producer of Classical productions).

After graduation, she served as a clerk for Federal District Judge Edward Palmieri and then became the second woman to join the faculty of Rutgers Law School. She tried many cases for the American Civil Liberties Union.

On June 30, 1980, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was sworn into the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, after being nominated by President Jimmy Carter. There she served for thirteen years until August 10, 1993, when Judge Byron R. White resigned from the Supreme Court. Being nominated by Bill Clinton, she was approved by the senate with a vote of ninety-six to three. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman and first Jew ever admitted.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg served many supreme court cases. One of her major ones was the Baker vs. General Motors Corp. in 1997. In this case Ronald Elwell worked fifteen years for GM. He was assigned to study GM vehicle performance, particularly concentrating on vehicular fires. Their relationship soured and Elwell agreed to retire after two year of consultation work. Before he retired, the corporation deposed Elwell when a GM truck burst into flames just after a collision. Over GM’s objection, he testified to the fuel systems inferiority to competing products. Ronald Elwell sued, claiming to be wrongfully discharged. In the settlement, GM paid Elwell an undisclosed amount of money but die to a counter-claim that Elwell had breached his fiduciary duty to GM, was barred from testifying as a witness in any litigation involving General Motors.

Another major court case was the Kawaauhau vs. Geiger in 1998. Kawaauhau sought treatment for an injured foot by Dr. Geiger, who hospitalized her and prescribed oral penicillin. Although intravenous would have been more effective, cost was an issue to Kawaauhau and requested it to be minimized. Gieger left her in care of other physicians, while on a trip, coming back to find they transferred her to an infectious disease specialist. Dr. Geiger cancelled this transfer, believing the infection had subsided. Kawaauhau’s condition deteriorated, leading to the amputation of her leg. She sued and was awarded $355,000 in damages due to malpractice. With no malpractice insurance, Dr. Geiger moved to Missouri where he unsuccessfully petitioned for bankruptcy as he was ineligible due to “willful and malicious” care.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg still serves in the Supreme Court today. She is known to be a strong and steady voice for justice, gender equity, and civil rights. One of her last appearances as an attorney arguing a case before the Supreme Court was arguing on the behalf of women. The unsympathetic, Justice Renquist, asked, “You won’t settle for putting Susan B. Anthony on the new dollar, then?” The answer that resulted describes who this woman is, “We won’t settle for tokens.”






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