10 Reasons Why Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Kicks Ass

by Amy LaCount

I usually agree with the Internet’s recognition and subsequent celebration of all the incredible women who run the world: Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Tina Fey, Hillary Clinton, and so many more. 

But I’ve been disappointed in the past by its failure to appreciate one of the baddest ladies in all the land, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Not anymore.

During the recent high-profile rulings on DOMA (joyous!) and the VRA (devastating and absolutely infuriating), Ginsburg’s spirit, intelligence, and heart were near impossible to miss.

Here are 10 reasons why Ginsburg has been killing the game since day one, and why you betta recognize.

10. She is the second female Supreme Court Justice ever to be appointed. She’s also the first Jewish female Justice EVER.

She was appointed by Bill Clinton (you know, Hillary’s husband) in 1993. He said of Ginsburg, “Many admirers of her work say that she is to the women’s movement what former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was to the movement for the rights of African Americans.”


9. She’s been fighting for women’s equality for basically half a century. 

Ruth was one of nine women in a 500-person class at Harvard Law School in 1956. When she first matriculated, she was invited to dinner at her Dean’s house, where she was asked (along with eight other female peers) why she was occupying a seat that could be held by a man. 

Instead of backing down, Ruth decided to channel her energy into getting top-notch grades and learning everything she could, transferring to Columbia her senior year and excelling at both Ivy League institutions. She would later use this knowledge and serious brain power to fight for the advancement of women’s rights as a constitutional principle in her vastly influential legal career. 

She went on to become the director of the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, where she litigated gender equality cases, winning five of the six cases she argued before SCOTUS, cases that changed the landscape of American law.


 8. She could kick your ass. And she’s 80.

First of all, she beat cancer – twice. To recuperate from her illnesses, Ginsburg took to working out with a personal trainer at the Supreme Court gym. “I looked like a survivor of Auschwitz. Now I’m up to 20 push-ups,” she says. She even lifts weights!

Elena Kagan uses the same trainer as Ginsburg, and when the much younger justice struggles with fifteen-pound curls the trainer says, “C’mon! Justice Ginsburg can do that easily!” 

7. She fights against all forms of discrimination. 

On June 25th, a key part of the Voting Rights Act was struck down by SCOTUS, to our great dismay. The provision in the VRA required certain states and governments with a history of racial discrimination to “pre-clear any changes to their voting laws with the Justice Department or a federal court.” The Act was historically made to protect the minority vote, and was a huge victory for the Civil Rights Movement in the ’60s.

Justice Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion, and called her colleagues’ decision “hubristic.”

“Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.” 

6. She’s a Tumblr phenomenon.

On the same day that she uttered her inspiring argument against VRA, a Tumblr went up called Notorious R.B.G., splicing together Ginsburg’s name with the talented ’90s rapper Biggie (RIP).


The Tumblr rocks. It’s filled with Ginsburg’s smart dissenting opinions, charming quotes from interviews, hilarious gifs, and even T-shirts that you can snag if you want to show the world how much you love R.B.G. (and who doesn’t?)


The Tumblr focuses on the ways in which Ginsburg’s career has supported the rights of women and other minorities, and shattered glass ceiling after ceiling.


5. Her Makers: Women Who Make America Documentary is tear-inducing.

Hearing Ginsburg talk about her mother, late husband, and children will send you into a fit of happy tears. You can’t help but fall in love with her incredible strength and warmth. 

She describes her mother as “the bravest and strongest person I have known, who was taken from me much too soon. I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve and daughters are cherished as much as sons.”

Cue the waterworks. 

Also, the documentary shows you what a babe she was!


4. She might be fierce as hell, but she’s equally friendly, willing to put political differences aside.

It’s no secret that Justices Antonin Scalia (who’s staunchly conservative, often opposing abortion and affirmative action) and Ginsburg disagree all the time, publicly and savagely at that. But Ruth promises that they’re good friends, commending all the justices for supporting her throughout her struggles with cancer.

She goes to the opera with Scalia all the time – they even appeared onstage together as party guests in Ariadne auf Naxos! 

3. She’s seriously quotable.

 Ginsburg on DOMA

2. She took care of her husband and daughter during law school, and instead of complaining about it, she thanks them, saying they got her through school.

Ruth married Martin David Ginsburg at Cornell, but when they went on Harvard Law School together, Martin was diagnosed with testicular cancer. During this difficult period, Ruth helped to keep her husband up to speed in his classes and cared for him in his time of need. She went home from law school at 4 PM, spent time with her daughter until the youngster fell asleep, and then went back to hitting the books. She called both a respite from the other, never mentioning how hard this all must have been on her. 

1. This one speaks for itself.

Sources: US News, Makers, Notorious RBG

Photos via wrhammons, New Yorker, Huffington Post, Notorious RBG, Makers, Buzzfeed.

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