Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second female justice confirmed to the nation's highest court. She was born in 1933 in Brooklyn, N.Y., the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants. Though she studied law at Harvard and Columbia, she initially faced some difficulty finding employment in the legal field because of her gender. She spent some time in academia, first at Columbia, then at Rutgers, but she eventually found her way to the American Civil Liberties Union, where, as director of that group's Women's Rights Project, she argued a number of gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court. In 1980 President Jimmy Carter appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where she remained until being nominated to the Supreme Court in 1993. In 1997 Vice President Al Gore asked Ginsburg to administer his oath of office when he began his second term. Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement in 2006 left Ginsberg as the only woman on the panel for a while - a period during which some pundits say she found her voice and began to use it. Despite personal upheaval (Ginsburg was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009, and her husband died in 2010) she persevered, ignoring calls to retire. She published her first book, "My Own Words," in October 2016. As a senior member of the court's so-called liberal wing, Ginsburg has become something of a pop culture icon, inspiring memes such as Notorious R.B.G. (a play on rapper Notorious B.I.G.), Halloween costumes, bobblehead dolls and an impersonation by Kate McKinnon on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC 1975- ). Ruth Bader Ginsburg died following an extensive and lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer on September 18, 2020. She was 87.