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Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG)- Harbinger of Gender Equality in The United States

Updated: Jan 18

"I ask no favour for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks"

For all those who don't know about Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) - She has now become a beloved figure in American legal history. She is the Second woman Associate Justice at the Supreme Court of the US and had made remarkable accomplishments during her entire legal profession.

Brief History of RBG

Born in New York on March 15, 1933, RBG went to Cornell University and Harvard Law School before receiving her law degree from Columbia University. Following the law school, RBG took up her career into academics, before she joined High Court. She was teaching the civil Procedure Code for the students at Columbia University as well as Rutgers Law School. She was one of the few women who taught Civil procedure code, decades ago.

While studying her graduate degree at Cornell's, She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa (the oldest academic Honour society of the United States) and the highest-ranking female student in her graduating class. In 1956, she joined Harward Law school to pursue law, where she was one among the 9 women out of 500 men, who was admitted to Harvard. She was later transferred to Columbia law school, where she became the first woman to be 2 major law reviews; the Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review.

The Motivation behind her Legal Activism.

Every person would be encountering some events in their life which would further inspire them to strive against such an event, and eventually swear to struggle against such factors which caused them such obnoxious event. Here RBG had also witnessed the same, and the so-called 'factor' in her case was related to gender equality.

During the 1960's she encountered few difficulties to come up in her legal career, mainly due to her gender status. She was subsequently rejected by the Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, when she applied for the clerkship post, mainly due to her gender. Further in 1963, she was informed that she would get paid less than her male colleagues while assuming the position of professor at Rutgers Law school.

In 1961-1963, she had an opportunity to be in Sweden as an associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, where she was inspired by the concept of 'gender equality'.She was amused with the Swedens stance on Gender Equality, where 20-25 % of all law students there where women.

Legal Accomplishment and Further Progress.

In 1972, Ginsburg co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and in 1973, she became the Project's general counsel. The Women's Rights Project and related ACLU projects participated in more than three hundred gender discrimination cases by 1974. As the director of the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976, winning five.

In Reed .v. Reed, RBG volunteered to write in brief, for which the Supreme Court extended the protections of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to women. In the United States v. Virginia, 518U.S. 515 (1996), which struck down the Virginia Military Institute's (VMI) male-only admissions policy as violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, RBG had authored courts opinion, while emphasizing on the '"exceedingly persuasive justification" to use a classification based on sex to be used by the government. She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then US president Bill Clinton - becoming only the second woman ever to serve on the court. In 1997, she became the third woman to administer an inaugural oath of office, during the second inauguration of Bill Clinton.

RBG has also made her views on abortion rights and sexual equality, where she opined that its none of the government's decision to interfere with this particular right. she has even criticized the famous US abortion case Roe.v. Wade, calling such a decision as terminating a nascent democratic movement to liberalize abortion laws which might have built a more durable consensus in support of abortion rights.

RBG has also used the international treaties as the tool to strengthen the ties on gender equality and racial discrimination elimination, as she pointed out the same in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003). She had also shown her support to the LGBTQ community, as she is believed to be the first Supreme Court justice to officiate at a same-sex wedding.

In 2018, RBG has also given full-fledged support to the #MeToo Movement, which encouraged the women worldwide to speak up their experiences related to sexual abuse and harassment. As part of the campaign, she had even narrated her experience at Cornell University, where one of her professors favoured to trade her exam answers, in exchange for sex. An Oscar-nominated documentary film and a Hollywood biographical movie, based on Sex, about her, was also released in the same year.


RBG was a Fierce Advocate for the women's rights, who constantly struggled against the question of gender equality. She was an Enthusiast who always raised the concern regarding gender equality, strengthening up her views supporting women, whenever her male counterparts flagged conservatism. Due to her remarkable contribution to the issues of women's rights, particularly on gender equality, had gained her fame and was subsequently nick-named as ' Notorious RBG'. Her contribution towards Gender equality should not go unnoticed and must also act as an inspiring factor to all those people who still struggle for gender equality, around the world.


Swathi. Ashok. Nair is currently Pursuing Law at School of Legal Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology.

They can be contacted at swathiashoknair555@gmail.com.


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