Thanks to a recent movie and various news stories, you may think you know a lot about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But here are 15 things you may not realize about the soft-spoken lady who many consider one of the most accomplished women in U.S. history. Make that, one of the most accomplished people in U.S. history.
1. IT STARTED WITH MOM
Ruth Bader Ginsburg called her mother, “The bravest, strongest person I’ve ever known” and she credits her for her love for education and equality. Sadly, her mom died of cancer the day before Ruth’s high school graduation.
2. SCHOOL SPIRIT
Ruth not only was an honor student but she excelled at the fun stuff as well. She played was a baton twirler, a proud member of the pep squad, and played cello in the school orchestra.
3. SHE FACED SEXISM BEFORE THE WORD EXISTED.
When she was a newlywed, Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed a Civil Service exam to be a claims adjuster. But when she casually mentioned she was three months pregnant, her civil service ranking was immediately reduced and with it, her title and pay. It’s safe to say, this would have “lawsuit” written all over it if this were to happen today.
4. SHE WAS FIRST IN HER CLASS BUT NOBODY WOULD HIRE HER
Ruth graduated first in her class at prestigious Columbia University. But few law firms at the time were willing to hire women. She finally got her foot in the door when a low ranking district court judge was pressured into hiring her as a clerk.
5. SPOUSAL SUPPORT
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s husband was an extremely busy tax lawyer but as her career blossomed, he insisted on being in charge of the cooking as well as much of the housework. Shortly before he died in 2010, he remarked, “The most important thing I’ve done is to enable Ruth to do what she has accomplished.”
6. EQUALITY FOR ALL
In the early 70’s, Ginsburg started working with the ACLU and became director of their Women’s Rights Project. She litigated gender-equality cases and people took notice when she won five of the six cases she argued before the Supreme Court.
7. FAIRNESS KNOWS NO GENDER
As a lawyer, she represented widowers arguing they should be entitled to the same Social Security benefits as widows. Back in the day, she also argued against rules barring women from jury duty.
8. HER CAREER TAKES OFF
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. She wrote an astounding 300 opinions and established a reputation as for consensus building.
9. BILL WAS ALSO A BIG FAN
President Clinton decided to make Ruth Bader Ginsburg his first appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court on August 10, 1993. He said Ginsburg is to the women’s movement what former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was to the rights of African-Americans.
10. TWO TRAILBLAZERS
Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’Connor were the first two female justices in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. Better late than never.
11. MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY
The two were huge fans of each other during their 12 years together on the court (O’Connor retired in 2006). They were even given matching shirts to help clear things up for those not used to seeing two female faces looking down on them from the bench. One read, “I’m Ruth, not Sandra” and of course the
12. NEVER ENOUGH
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was once asked at what point will there be “enough women” on the Supreme Court? She replied, “When there are nine”. She referenced the fact that there had been nine men in the past and no one ever complained. We’re not sure if she was joking but we doubt it.
13. SHE PROBABLY CAN DO MORE SITUPS THAN YOU
For at least 20 years Ruth has worked out a couple times a week with a personal trainer. Her regiment includes squats, planks, medicine ball tosses, push-ups and sit-ups.
14. THE MUSIC OF HER LIFE
If it didn’t disrupt the courtroom, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would probably listen to opera all day long. In fact, she once remarked, “If I had any talent, I would be a great diva, but sadly I have a monotone voice.” Too bad, it’d be fun to hear her sing one of her verdicts.
15. AND IN HER SPARE TIME…
Despite her age and her busy job, Ruth still has the energy to golf, water ski, and ride horses. And oh yeah, she’s also found time to appear as an extra in several operas.
Even after three bouts of cancer, heart surgery, and a fall that fractured her ribs, the star of our story has no plans to call it a career. But what else would you expect from an icon who is just as strong as she is smart?