Ruth Bader Ginsburg (/ˈbeɪdər ˈɡɪnzbɜːrɡ/, born Joan Ruth Bader; March 15, 1933) is an American lawyer and jurist who is an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took the oath of office on August 10, 1993. She is the second female justice (after Sandra Day O’Connor) of four to be confirmed to the court (along with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who are still serving). Following O’Connor’s retirement, and until Sotomayor joined the court, Ginsburg was the only female justice on the Supreme Court. During that time, Ginsburg became more forceful with her dissents, which were noted by legal observers and in popular culture. She is generally viewed as belonging to the liberal wing of the court. Ginsburg has authored notable majority opinions, including United States v. Virginia, Olmstead v. L.C., and Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc.
Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her older sister died when she was a baby, and her mother, one of her biggest sources of encouragement, died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school. She then earned her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University, and became a wife and mother before starting law school at Harvard, where she was one of the few women in her class. Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School, where she graduated tied for first in her class. Following law school, Ginsburg turned to academia. She was a professor at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School, teaching civil procedure as one of the few women in her field.
Ginsburg spent a considerable part of her legal career as an advocate for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights, winning multiple victories arguing before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and was a member of its board of directors and one of its general counsels in the 1970s. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where she served until her appointment to the Supreme Court. Ginsburg has received attention in American popular culture for her fiery liberal dissents and refusal to step down; she has been dubbed “The Notorious R.B.G.” in reference to the late rapper known as “The Notorious B.I.G.“.