As the second female appointee to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg acquired the reputation of being a moderately liberal justice and continued to pursue her earlier commitment to use law to combat gender discrimination.
The daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, Ruth Bader Ginsburg completed her undergraduate studies at Cornell University in 1954 and received her law degree from Columbia University in 1959. Although she tied for first place in her class and served on her school’s law review staff, she was unable to obtain employment in a major law firm after she graduated. Her experiences with gender discrimination early in her career were similar to those of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court. Recognizing the barriers that lay between her and the private practice of law, Ginsburg sought and obtained a clerkship with a federal district judge, Edmund Palmieri. She then joined the law faculties at Rutgers University and Columbia University.
Ginsburg’s commitment to eradicating gender discrimination became evident while she was teaching at Columbia University. As a faculty member, she headed the Women’s Rights Project for the American Civil Liberties Union,
President Jimmy Carter
The moderate political ideology that Ginsburg demonstrated as a circuit court judge matched that of President Bill Clinton, who nominated her to the Supreme Court in 1993. She received the highest recommendation of the American Bar Association
Unlike many newcomers who apparently suffer from freshman anxiety, Ginsburg seemed comfortable on the Court from the beginning. She quickly acquired the reputation of being an energetic and enthusiastic questioner during oral arguments. Some Court observers labeled her as “aggressive” in this role because of her apparent willingness to interrupt her more senior colleagues in their questioning efforts. Nevertheless known for her politeness, she has never made sarcastic comments or strong attacks on the legal reasoning of others. In her opinions, she has given meticulous attention to details. Her major concern has always been the practical application of the law, giving minimal interest to the historical background of issues. She was soon regarded as the Court’s expert on civil procedure, a subject that she had taught for many years.
The area of sex discrimination
Ginsburg has not been sympathetic toward claims of “reverse discrimination” when reviewing affirmative action programs designed to enhance the opportunities of minorities or women. When considering the constitutionality of such programs, she has advocated the standard of minimal scrutiny. Thus, she dissented in Adarand Constructors v Peña (1995), when a 5-4 majority applied the strict scrutiny standard to racial preferences in federal programs. Likewise, in the cases of Grutter v. Bollinger
This practice of looking to international law and foreign courts as a source of guidance became a matter of some controversy after the Court’s decision in Roper v. Simmons
Many commentators have viewed Ginsburg as an advocate of judicial restraint, and it is true that she has frequently declared that legislative acts should be respected whenever possible. When discussing the abortion
Bayer, Linda N. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2000. Cooper, Phillip J. Battles on the Bench: Conflicts Inside the Supreme Court. University Press of Kansas, 1995. Frederick, David C. Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy. Foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. St. Paul, Minn.: West Group, 2003. Ginsburg, Ruth Bader. “Remarks for the American Law Institute Annual Dinner.” St. Louis University Law Journal 38 (Summer, 1994): 884. Hensley, Thomas R. The Rehnquist Court: Justices, Rulings, and Legacy. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-Clio, 2006. Smith, Christopher E., Joyce Ann Baugh, Thomas R. Hensley, and Scott Patrick Johnson. “The First-Term Performance of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Judicature 78 (1994): 74-80. Tushnet, Mark. A Court Divided: The Rehnquist Court and the Future of Constitutional Law. New York: W. W. Norton, 2005 Yarbrough, Tinsley. The Rehnquist Court and the Constitution. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Bush v. Gore
Gratz v. Bollinger/Grutter v. Bollinger
O’Connor, Sandra Day
Rehnquist, William H.
Roper v. Simmons
Virginia, United States v.
Zelman v. Simmons-Harris