Ruth Bader Ginsburg (/ˈbeɪdər ˈɡɪnzbɜːrɡ/; born Joan Ruth Bader; March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020), also known by her initials RBG, was an American jurist who served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1993 until her death in 2020. She was nominated by President Bill Clinton and was generally viewed as belonging to the liberal wing of the Court. Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, after Sandra Day O’Connor. Following O’Connor’s retirement in 2006 and until Sonia Sotomayor joined the Court in 2009, she 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. Ginsburg authored notable majority opinions, including United States v. Virginia (1996), Olmstead v. L.C. (1999), and Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc. (2000).
Ginsburg was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Her older sister died when she was a baby, and her mother died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school. She then earned her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University and became a wife to Martin D. Ginsburg 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 entered into 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 arguments before the Supreme Court. She advocated as a volunteer attorney 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 received attention in American popular culture for her fiery liberal dissents and refusal to step down, leading to her being dubbed “The Notorious R.B.G.”, a play on the name of rapper The Notorious B.I.G.