In honor of her birthday, today we’re celebrating the one and only Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If you don’t know her name, it’s time you do. She is one smart cookie who is known for kicking butt and taking names. For a woman with a quiet voice, she often surprises her opponents when she lays down the law as ferociously as she does.
Before we get into all the reasons why we love her, let’s start with the essentials. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—you may know her as The “Notorious” RBG—is the first Jewish female justice of the United States Supreme Court. Appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993, she is the second of only four women to have ever served on the Supreme Court. For decades she has been fighting for women’s rights, equality, and minority rights.
She’s done an awful lot to merit our adoration over the last 84 years, but we managed to narrow it down to our top 10 reasons to love RBG:
1. She was one of only nine women in a class of 500 at Harvard Law and a full-time mom
She graduated top of her class at Harvard Law while simultaneously raising her daughter and caring for her husband as he battled cancer. Talk about multitasking.
2. She gave birth in secret to keep her job
Fearing she would lose her job as a professor at Rutgers and ruin her chances of getting tenure, she wore loose and oversized clothing to hide her pregnancy from the faculty. She gave birth to her son over the summer break and returned to work that fall, with no one the wiser. Drawing from that experience, she later went on to advocate for the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978.
3. She was not meant for the kitchen life
She is such a poor cook, her husband and children had to “expel” her from the kitchen. She once burnt a tuna casserole, which became the butt of family jokes. In defiance of traditional gender roles, her husband became the designated chef in their home. After his death, Ruth took his recipes and wrote a cookbook in his honor.
4. She was best friends with Justice Antonin Scalia
They may have not seen eye to eye on political matters, but they learned to leave their differences at work and enjoy each other’s company anyway. One man was so inspired by their unlikely friendship that he wrote a comedic opera about their relationship called Scalia/Ginsburg.
5. She has incredible fashion sense
Ruth has an extensive collection of jabots, including an official “dissent collar.” Her signature fishnet gloves were inspired by Sandra Day O’Connor, who told RGB as she recovered from colon cancer in 1999, “You are vulnerable now, and you’re going to receptions and shaking hands with lots of people, so you should at least wear gloves.” Ruth took her up on the idea and liked them so much, she decided to keep wearing them.
6. She battled cancer and still made it to the courtroom
In 1999, Ruth was diagnosed with colon cancer. But despite this devastating news, she didn’t miss a day on the bench. In 2009, doctors discovered that she had developed pancreatic cancer, but it was caught early enough to be removed with surgery and chemotherapy. At the advice of Sandra Day O’Connor, she did her chemotherapy on Fridays, so she would have the weekend to recuperate and be back to work by Monday. That’s dedication.
7. She slays in the gym
RBG knows the importance of physical activity. The woman kept right on water skiing and whitewater rafting until she was 70 years old, and currently shares a personal trainer with fellow justice Elena Kagan. Twice a week, she meets with her trainer and kills her regular routine of push-ups, the elliptical, and lunges.
8. She officiated a same-sex marriage
Two short months after she and the other Supreme Court justices ruled that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriage, she officiated one herself. The wedding was for two of her longtime friends, Michael Kaiser and John Roberts.
9. A Tumblr and book “The Notorious RBG” was created in her honor
In 2013, shortly after the Supreme Court decided Shelby County v. Holder, which discarded a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act, Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench and became a pop culture icon overnight. Soon after, Shana Knizhnik created a Tumblr blog to honor Ruth and her fiery passion. Later, a book was released with the same title.
10. She doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon
Although she turns 84 years old today, Ruth Bader Ginsburg isn’t slowing down. In an interview with NPR she stated, “I will retire when it’s time. And, when is it time? When I can’t do the job full-steam.” Fortunately for us, it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon.
Happy birthday, RBG! Keep being notorious. You are an inspiration to us all.