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TIME Ruth Bader Ginsburg

TIME Ruth Bader Ginsburg

TIME Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In a remarkable career that spanned six decades, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg helped shape law and culture in the United States through her passion for justice, advocacy for gender equality, and her unflinching dedication to democracy. Even before her 1993 nomination by President Bill Clinton to become the second woman seated on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg’s career was impressive; the first woman to receive tenure on the Columbia law faculty, co-founding the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, and arguing several landmark anti-sex discrimination cases before the Court. On the bench, Ginsburg’s opinions made history up until her death at 87 years old on September 18, 2020, though it was her dissents – sharp, precise, and passionate, especially those that were delivered from the bench, that garnered the most attention. Now, in a tribute to the pioneering justice, TIME presents a highly engaging and beautifully illustrated special edition tracing Ginsburg’s life and career. This commemorative edition also features an exclusive introduction by President Bill Clinton as well as high praise of Ginsburg from both sides of the political aisle, a selection of the Justice’s most historic cases, and reflections on RBG’s surprising turn late in life as a pop-culture icon.

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United States
Meredith Corporation

in this issue

12 min.
a legal giant

ON MARCH 15, 2019, LEGIONS OF RUTH BADER Ginsburg’s admirers celebrated her 86th birthday by dropping to the ground and grinding out the Super Diva’s signature push-ups on the steps of courthouses across the country. This unusual tribute to a Supreme Court Justice was one of the many ways a new generation has shown the love to the 5-ft. tall legal giant who made the lives they live possible. Some 19 months later, her iron will and gritty determination were no longer enough to propel her to court. Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, 2020, at age 87, of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, according to a statement released that day by the Supreme Court. In the early 1970s—when Gloria Steinem was working underground as a Playboy Bunny to expose sexism, and Betty…

4 min.
a justice for all

THE FIRST TIME I MET RUTH BADER GINSBURG WAS on a Sunday evening in June of 1993 when she came to see me at the White House residence. She was on a final list of three people I was considering for an appointment to the Supreme Court, all of whom were excellent candidates. I knew this was one of the most important decisions I would make in my presidency, and I had reviewed dozens of candidates and carefully studied their records. Hillary and many other people I trusted had told me I should take a serious look at Judge Ginsburg because she was a brilliant woman with a compelling life story whose record on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit was interesting, independent and…

1 min.
images of impact

12 min.
the girl from brooklyn

JUNE 27, 1950, SHOULD HAVE BEEN A DAY OF triumph for an ambitious young girl just turned 17—the culmination of four years of outstanding academic achievement. It was graduation day at Brooklyn’s James Madison High School, and Ruth Bader had been chosen as just one of four students to speak for her 800 classmates. Instead, it was a moment of great anguish. Two days before, Ruth’s mother, Celia, had succumbed to cancer. It had been a painful, four-year struggle, and for the sensitive adolescent, watching the physical deterioration of the parent who represented nurture and security, along with her father’s silent grief, had been wrenching. Yet with Celia’s encouragement, Ruth had won prestigious college scholarships, played in the school orchestra and cheered on the football team as a baton twirler—never once…

12 min.
the aclu years

“It was that 10 years of my life that I devoted to litigating cases about—I don’t say women’s rights—I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.” —RBG, 2010 RBG DIDN’T EAT ON THE MORNING OF JAN. 17, 1973. She was afraid she would vomit. Wearing her mother’s pin and earrings, like a soldier suiting up for battle RBG stood alone in front of nine stone-faced men and asked them to do something they had until then refused to do: recognize that the Constitution banned sex discrimination. She began her oral argument the same way all attorneys appearing in front of the Supreme Court do: “Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the court.” You can listen to the recording of RBG speaking, how at first the words…

3 min.
first oral argument

Amicus views this case as kin to Reed v. Reed 404 U.S. The legislative judgment in both derives from the same stereotype. The man is or should be the independent partner in a marital unit. The woman with an occasional exception is dependent, sheltered from breadwinning experience…. By employing the sex criterion, identically situated persons are treated differently. The married serviceman gets benefits for himself, as well as his spouse regardless of her income. The married servicewoman is denied medical care for her spouse and quarter’s allowance for herself as well as her spouse even if, as in this case, she supplies over two thirds the support of the marital unit. For these reasons, amicus believes that the sex-related means employed by Congress fails to meet the rationality standard. It does not have…