Let’s be honest — there aren’t that many Ruths out there today. If you’re lucky enough to be one of the chosen few (Ruth is the 344th ranked baby name of 2012), you’re probably someone’s grandma, and I hear you make the best chicken soup ever.
Luckily, one Ruth is so awesome that she upholds the good name of all the Ruths around the world. And no, it’s not Baby Ruth, daughter of Grover Cleveland. Though she was pretty great. It’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, everyone’s favorite Supreme Court Justice. A few days ago, the internet began to honor Justice Ginsburg in a manner fully befitting her years of dignified service: a tumblr! Before you head over there to check out some of her best quotes, find out why Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the physical embodiment of America.
She might look mild-mannered, but Justice Ginsburg’s temper is fearsome. Just this week, she tore apart the chief justice’s decision to dismantle the Voting Rights Act. In a massive 37-page dissent, she wrote, “Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court’s opinion today.” That is some strong language from the bench.
At last year’s State of the Union, Ginsburg looked fabulous in lace gloves and took her place of honor in the front row. Then she dozed through Obama’s speech, even seeming to rely on Justices Breyer and Kennedy to keep her upright.
She might have been the second woman on the bench, but Ginsburg was an all-star even before she became a lawyer. After growing up in Brooklyn during the Depression, she fought her way to graduating first in her class at Cornell. At Harvard Law School, Ginsburg cared for her husband through his struggle with cancer, raised her young daughter, and became the first woman elected to the Harvard Law Review. All at the same time.
Ginsburg is directly responsible for huge achievements in women’s rights. She began her litigation career arguing that gender equality went both ways — her first big case was getting a tax code rewritten because it only gave single women with dependents a deduction. Eventually, she argued before the Supreme Court, winning the landmark case that explicitly includes women in the Equal Protection Clause.
RBG can do anything. Twenty-five push-ups? Done. Trading notes with Justice Scalia on the best opera in town? No problem. Spending years as the Court’s only woman? Yep. Battling cancer without missing a day on the bench? She’s done it. For more on our Supreme Court's resident baller, check out Jeffrey Toobin’s The Oath.