Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Infobox Judge
name = Ruth Bader Ginsburg


imagesize =
caption =
office = Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court
termstart = August 10, 1993
termend =
nominator = Bill Clinton
predecessor = Byron White
successor = Incumbent
birthdate = birth date and age|1933|03|15
birthplace = Brooklyn, New York
deathdate =
deathplace =
spouse = Martin D. Ginsburg
almae_matres = Cornell University
Columbia University
religion =

Ruth Joan Bader Ginsburg (born March 15, 1933, Brooklyn, New York) is an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She is the second woman and the first Jewish woman to serve on the Supreme Court. In 2007, "Forbes Magazine" rated her as the 20th most powerful woman in the world, and as the most powerful female lawyer in the world.

Prior to her appointment with the Supreme Court, Ginsburg served as a federal judge for 13 years on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In practice, she spent a considerable portion of her career as an advocate for the equal citizenship status of women and men as a constitutional principle. She engaged in advocacy as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, and in the 1970s, was a member of the ACLU's Board and one of its General Counsel. She served as a professor at Rutgers University School of Law and Columbia Law School.

Early life

Ginsburg was born Ruth Joan Bader in Brooklyn, New York, the second daughter of Nathan and Celia Bader. Ginsburg's family called her "Kiki".cite web
accessdate=
url=http://www.oyez.org/justices/ruth_bader_ginsburg/
title=Ruth Bater Ginsburg Biography
publisher=Oyez
] Her family were active members of the East Midwood Jewish Center, where she was one of the few people who took her confirmation seriously, and at age thirteen acted as the "camp rabbi" at a Jewish summer program. However, she later abandoned Judaism.Pogrebin, Abigail. "Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish", Random House, 2007, p.19. ISBN 0767916131]

Her mother took an active role in her education, taking her to the library often. Ginsburg attended James Madison High School, whose law program later dedicated a courtroom in her honor. Her older sister died when she was very young. Her mother struggled with cancer throughout Ginsburg's high school years and died the day before her graduation.

Ruth Bader married Martin D. Ginsburg, later a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and an internationally prominent tax lawyer, in 1954. Their daughter Jane is Professor of Literary and Artistic Property Law at the Columbia Law School, and their son James is founder and president of Cedille Records, a classical music recording company based in Chicago.

Ginsburg received her B.A. from Cornell University, where Vladimir Nabokov was among her professors. In 1954 she enrolled at Harvard Law School. When her husband took a job in New York City she transferred to Columbia Law School and became the first woman to be on both the Harvard and Columbia law reviews. She earned her LL.B. degree at Columbia, tied for first in her class.

In 1959 Ginsburg began a clerkship for Judge Edmund L. Palmieri of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. From 1961 to 1963 she was a research associate and then associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, learning Swedish to co-author a book on judicial procedure in Sweden. Ginsburg conducted extensive research for her book in Sweden at the University of Lund. [Linda, Bayer "Ruth Bader Ginsburg"(Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000), 46. ] She was a Professor of Law at Rutgers School of Law-Newark from 1963 to 1972. In 1970, she co-founded the "Women's Rights Law Reporter", the first law journal in the United States to focus exclusively on women's rights [cite web|url=http://pegasus.rutgers.edu/~wrlr/index.html|title=About the Reporter|accessdate=2008-06-29] . From 1972 until 1980, she taught at Columbia, where she became the first tenured woman and co-authored the first law school case book on sex discrimination.

In 1977 she became a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. As the chief litigator of the ACLU's women's rights project, she argued several cases in front of the Supreme Court and attained a reputation as a skilled oral advocate.

Judicial career

Ginsburg was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Carter in 1980.

President Bill Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on June 14, 1993. During her subsequent confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, she refused to answer questions regarding her personal views on most issues or how she would adjudicate certain hypothetical situations as a Supreme Court Justice. A number of Senators on the committee came away frustrated, with unanswered questions about how Ginsburg planned to make the transition from an advocate for causes she personally held dear, to a Justice on the highest court in America. Despite this, Ginsburg refused to discuss her beliefs about the limits and proper role of jurisprudence, saying "Were I to rehearse here what I would say and how I would reason on such questions, I would act injudiciously".

At the same time, Ginsburg did answer questions relating to some potentially controversial issues. For instance, she affirmed her belief in a constitutional right to privacy, and explicated at some length on her personal judicial philosophy and thoughts regarding gender equality. [ [http://www.acslaw.org/views/Bennard%20re%20Ginsburg%20confirmation.pdf] Dead link|date=March 2008] The U.S. Senate confirmed her by a 96 to 3 vote [The three negative votes came from conservative Republicans Don Nickles (OK), Robert C. Smith (NH), and Jesse Helms (NC).] and she took her seat on August 10, 1993.

Ginsburg characterizes her performance on the court as a cautious approach to adjudication, and argued in a speech shortly before her nomination to the Supreme Court that " [m] easured motions seem to me right, in the main, for constitutional as well as common law adjudication. Doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped, experience teaches, may prove unstable." [ [http://www.dlc.org/ndol_ci.cfm?kaid=127&subid=177&contentid=253356 DLC: Judge Not by William A. Galston ] ] Ginsburg has urged that the Supreme Court allow for dialogue with elected branches, while others argue that would inevitably lead to politicizing the court.

Though Ginsburg has consistently supported abortion rights and joined in the Supreme Court's opinion striking down Nebraska's partial-birth abortion law in "Stenberg v. Carhart" (2000), she has criticized the court's ruling in "Roe v. Wade" as terminating a nascent, democratic movement to liberalize abortion laws which might have built a more durable consensus in support of abortion rights. She has also been an advocate for using foreign law and norms to shape U.S. law in judicial opinions, in contrast to the textualist views of her colleagues Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito. Despite their fundamental differences, Ginsburg considers Scalia her closest colleague in the Court, often dining and attending operas together.

Ginsburg was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer in 1999 and underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The condition appears to be arrested.

Ginsburg is part of the "liberal wing" in the current court and has a Segal-Cover score of 0.680 placing her as the most liberal (by that measure, which takes no account of judicial actions post-confirmation) of current justices, although more moderate than those of many other post-War justices. In a 2003 statistical analysis of Supreme Court voting patterns, Ginsburg emerged the second most liberal member of the Court (behind Justice Stevens). [See http://pooleandrosenthal.com/the_unidimensional_supreme_court.htm] [Cite journal |last=Sirovich |first=Lawrence |year=2003 |title=A pattern analysis of the second Rehnquist U.S. Supreme Court |periodical=PNAS |volume=100 |issue=13 |pages=7432–7437 |doi=10.1073/pnas.1132164100 ]

Some notable cases in which Ginsburg wrote an opinion:
*"United States v. Virginia" Court Opinion
*"Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc." Court Opinion
*"Bush v. Gore" Dissenting
*"Eldred v. Ashcroft" Court Opinion
*"Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp." Court Opinion

"Ginsburg Precedent"

More than a decade passed between the time Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer were appointed and the time another justice left the court. In that time, both Congress and the White House had switched to Republican control. When Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement in the summer of 2005 (with William Rehnquist's death a few months later), both sides began to squabble about just how many questions President George W. Bush's nominees would be expected to answer. The debate heated up when hearings for John Roberts began in September 2005. Republicans used an argument that they called the "Ginsburg Precedent", which centered on Ginsburg's confirmation hearings. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=1049-0965(199406)27%3A2%3C224%3ATUOSCH%3E2.0.CO%3B2-P PS: Political Science and Politics, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Jun., 1994), pp. 224-227] ] In those hearings, she did not answer some questions involving matters such as abortion, gay rights, separation of church and state, rights of the disabled, and so on. Only one witness was allowed to testify "against" Ginsburg at her confirmation hearings, and the hearings lasted only four days.

In a September 28, 2005, speech at Wake Forest University, Ginsburg said that Chief Justice Roberts refusing to answer questions on some cases was "unquestionably right." [ [http://www.the-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050928/APN/509281240&cachetime=5 The Dispatch | Davidson County's News Source ] ] However, as the following sentence in the speech made clear, this statement did not affirm the existence of a "precedent" which the Judiciary Committee was obliged to follow; it was merely a statement the nominee could, at his discretion, refuse to answer questions about how he might rule.

Democrats had argued against Roberts' refusal to answer certain questions, saying that Ginsburg had made her views very clear, even if she did not comment on all specific matters, and that due to her lengthy tenure as a judge, many of her legal opinions were already available for review. Democrats also pointed out that Republican Senator Orrin Hatch had recommended Ginsburg to then-President Clinton, which suggested Clinton worked in a bipartisan manner. Hatch also recommended Roberts.

During the John Roberts confirmation hearings, Democratic Senator Joe Biden, Hatch, and Roberts himself brought up Ginsburg's hearings several times as they argued over how many questions she answered and how many Roberts was expected to answer. The precedent was again cited several times during the confirmation hearings for Justice Samuel Alito.

References

Bibliography

*cite book |title=My Life |last=Clinton |first=Bill |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2005 |publisher=Vintage |location=New York |isbn=140003003X |pages= |url=
*cite book |chapter=Foreword |title=Garner on Language and Writing |last=Ginsburg |first=Ruth Bader |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=2008 |publisher=American Bar Association |location=Chicago |isbn=9781590315880 |pages= |url=

External links

* [http://www.supremecourtus.gov/about/biographiescurrent.pdf Supreme court official bio (PDF)]

Persondata
NAME=Ginsburg, Ruth Joan Bader
ALTERNATIVE NAMES=
SHORT DESCRIPTION=U.S. Supreme Court justice
DATE OF BIRTH=March 15, 1933
PLACE OF BIRTH=Brooklyn, New York
DATE OF DEATH=living
PLACE OF DEATH=


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