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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Rejected by the Firm

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Published on Jun 12, 2012

Justice Ginsburg reflects on the different life she might have led if law firms had been open to hiring women when she left law school.

Long before Ruth Bader Ginsburg became only the second woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, she broke countless legal and professional barriers for women. Raised in a working-class neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, Ginsburg graduated first in her class from Cornell University in 1954. She started a family with her college sweetheart Martin Ginsburg and enrolled in Harvard Law School where she was one of only nine women in her class. She became the first woman elected to the Harvard Law Review, a feat she repeated at Columbia Law School, where she transferred for her final year. As a volunteer lawyer at the New Jersey offices of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the 1960s, she saw a growing number of sex discrimination cases brought, thanks to the just-passed 1964 Civil Rights Act's Title VII. In 1980, President Carter appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. She served there until she was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 by President Clinton. In 1996, she wrote the court's landmark decision in United States v. Virginia, which held that the state-supported Virginia Military Institute could not refuse to admit women. In 1999, she won the American Bar Association's Thurgood Marshall Award for her contributions to gender equality and civil rights.

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