Badass Ladies of History: Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Ruth Bader Ginsberg (or RBG, as I affectionately call her in my mind) is a serious badass on the U.S. Supreme Court. Seriously, if I were a poet, I would write an ode to her. Instead, I’m going to give you a bulleted list of her awesomeness.

This is the face of bad-assery. All hail RBG.


  • Was one of only nine women out of 500 in her class at Harvard Law
  • First woman to be on two law reviews, Harvard law Review and Columbia Law Review
  • Volunteer lawyer, member of Board of Directors, and general counsel for the ALCU (American Civil Liberties Union).
  • First female tenured professor at Columbia University
  • Co-founded and served as Director of the Women’s Rights Project of the ACLU
  • Second female U.S. Supreme Court justice
  • First Jewish woman on the U.S. Supreme Court
  • Challenged laws that made jury duty voluntary for women, as optional jury duty sent the message that women’s service was unnecessary to government functions
  • Chosen by Al Gore to administer his oath of office
  • Argued for the Equal Protection Clause to be applied to women.
  • United States v. Virginia – majority opinion that struck down Virginia Military Academy’s male-only admission policy
  • Olmstead v. LC – majority opinion that provided that mental illness is covered by the American with Disabilities Act and that institutional isolation is a form of discrimination
  • Won the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award for her work in gender equality and civil rights (1999)
  • Did not miss a single day in court when undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment for colon cancer, and was hearing arguments 12 days after having surgery for early-stage pancreatic cancer
  • Was on the bench the day after her husband of 56 years passed away
  • Has been an outspoken proponent of women’s rights and reproductive liberties.

The conflict is not simply one between a fetus’ interest and a woman’s interest”¦ Also in the balance is a woman’s autonomous charge of her full life’s course, her ability to stand in relation to men, society and to stay as an independent, self-sustaining equal citizen. As long as the government paid for childbirth, the argument proceeded, public funding could not be denied for abortion, often a safer and always a far-less expensive course short and long term. By paying for childbirth but not abortion, the government increased spending and intruded upon or steered a choice Roe had ranked as a woman’s fundamental right.



Senator Hank Brown: [Asked Ginsburg about] equal rights for men and women on the question of abortion:

Ginsburg: I will rest my answer on the Casey decision, which says in the end it’s her body, her life, and men – to that extent – are not similarly situated. They don’t bear the child.

Brown: [Asked to explain further about whether] the rights of men and women are not equal in this case.

Ginsburg: I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling. If you impose restraints, you are disadvantaging her because of her sex. The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality.



By [E]queSarahSarah

Part-time artist, full-time crankypants who dabbles in knitting, running, and burpees.

4 replies on “Badass Ladies of History: Ruth Bader Ginsberg”

Thanks very much for this article!  My 2nd fav fantasy roller derby name is  “Ruth Slay-der Ginsberg”, b/c she is a badass. I especially love how she states plainly, with no qualifiers, that she believes rights granted through Roe are FUNDAMENTAL rights.  We need more RBG’s!

This is an especially important discussion in the upcoming election, since it’s so possible that the next pres will get to nominate a new Justice.  Considering that Scalia has openly stated he doesn’t believe the Equal Protection clause inherently applies to women (and showed his ignorance of history when he said, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that.” when in fact, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and other women’s rights advocates publicly pushed to include explicit mentions of women’s rights in the 14th and 15th amendments.)  we need rational justices on the bench upholding women’s rights as equal citizens.  I think Obama did a great job choosing Kagan and Sotomayor, honestly…so, hopefully he’ll be able to keep up the trend.



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