100 Most Inspirational Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes (About Law, Women, and More…)

100 most inspirational ruth bader ginsburg quotes about law women and more

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an incumbent Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. President Bill Clinton appointed her for the position, and she took the oath in August 1993. Ginsburg is the second female justice of four appointed in the Supreme Court.

Born in 1933, Ginsburg was the daughter of Celia and Nathan Bader. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and attended James Madison High School. At the age of 21, Ginsburg graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor of arts degree in government.

Two years later, she enrolled at Harvard Law School and was one of the only nine women in a class of 500 men. However, Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School when her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, took a job in New York City. She earned her law degree in 1959 and was at the top of her class.

As a female lawyer in the 1960s, Ginsburg was rejected many times by law firms despite having a stellar academic record. In 1963, she became a professor at Rutgers Law School yet still received drawbacks like being paid less than her male colleagues. Despite that, Ginsburg excelled at her job and won several gender discrimination cases.

Ginsburg is best known as a legal advocate of women’s rights and gender equality. In 1972, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU or the America Civil Liberties Union. She also became a popular culture icon and has been called the “notorious RBG” like the rapper “The Notorious BIG.” In 2018, the film On the Basis of Sex featured Ginsburg’s struggles in her career and fighting for equal rights.

Get to know the notorious RBG through several of the best and inspirational Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes and sayings that explore her views on law, women’s equality, and many more.

Table of Contents

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes About Law

1. “I do hope that some of my dissents will one day be the law.”

2. “Not a law firm in the entire city of New York bid for my employment as a lawyer when I earned my degree.”

3. “My law school class in the late 1950s numbered over 500. That class included less than 10 women.”

4. “If you just needed the skills to pass the bar, two years would be enough. But if you think of law as a learned profession, then a third year is an opportunity for, on the one hand, public service and practice experience, but on the other, also to take courses that round out the law that you didn’t have time to do.”

5. “I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed.”

"I think members of the legislature, people who have to run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #law

6. “People who have been hardworking, tax paying, those people ought to be given an opportunity to be on a track that leads towards citizenship, and if that happened, then they wouldn’t be prey to the employers who say, ‘We want you because we know that you work for a salary we could not lawfully pay anyone else.’”

7. “My resume showed membership on both the Harvard and Columbia Law Reviews, a credit impressive abroad where it was not generally known that Law Reviews were student-operated publications.”

8. “I think a law clerk told me about this tumblr and also explained to me what Notorious RBG was a parody on. And now my grandchildren love it, and I try to keep abreast of the latest that’s on the tumblr.”

9. “On the whole, we think of our consumers – other judges, lawyers, the public. The law that the Supreme Court establishes is the law that they must live by, so all things considered, it’s better to have it clearer than confusing.”

10. “In 2015, an opera opened about me and Justice Antonin Scalia. It’s called ‘Scalia/Ginsburg.’ The composer, Derrick Wang, has degrees in music from Harvard and Yale. Enrolled in law school, he was reading dueling opinions by me and Justice Scalia and decided he could compose an appealing comic opera from them.”

11. “Each part of my life provided respite from the other and gave me a sense of proportion.”

12. “How fortunate I was to be alive and a lawyer when, for the first time in United States history, it became possible to urge, successfully, before legislatures and courts, the equal-citizenship stature of women and men as a fundamental constitutional principle.”

13. “At Columbia Law School, my professor of constitutional law and federal courts, Gerald Gunther, was determined to place me in a federal court clerkship, despite what was then viewed as a grave impediment: On graduation, I was the mother of a 4-year-old child.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes About Women’s Rights

1. “The concern was that if a woman was doing gender equality, her chances of making it to tenure in the law school were diminished. It was considered frivolous.”

2. “Contraceptive protection is something every woman must have access to, to control her own destiny.”

"Contraceptive protection is something every woman must have access to, to control her own destiny." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #woman

3. “I would not like to be the only woman on the court.”

4. “In the ’50s, too many women, even though they were very smart, they tried to make the man feel that he was brainier. It was a sad thing.”

5. “I always thought that there was nothing an antifeminist would want more than to have women only in women’s organizations, in their own little corner empathizing with each other and not touching a man’s world.”

6. “The worst times were the years I was alone. The image to the public entering the courtroom was eight men, of a certain size, and then this little woman sitting to the side. That was not a good image for the public to see.”

7. “Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that changed their abortion laws before Roe are not going to change back. So we have a policy that only affects poor women, and it can never be otherwise.”

8. “A gender line… helps to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.”

9. “Feminism… I think the simplest explanation, and one that captures the idea, is a song that Marlo Thomas sang, ‘Free to be You and Me.’”

10. “Remember that before ‘Roe v. Wade’ was decided, there were four states that allowed abortion in the first trimester if that’s what the woman sought: New York, Hawaii, California, Alaska. Other states were shifting. And people were fighting over this issue in state legislatures.”

11. “It’s a facet of the gay rights movement that people don’t think about enough. Why suddenly marriage equality? Because it wasn’t until 1981 that the court struck down Louisiana’s ‘head and master rule,’ that the husband was head and master of the house.”

12. “Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.”

"Women will only have true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #woman

13. “I think daughters can change the perception of their fathers.”

14. “The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality.”

15. “When I was growing up, there were no women in orchestras. Auditioners thought they could tell the difference between a woman playing and a man. Some intelligent person devised a simple solution: Drop a curtain between the auditioners and the people trying out. And, lo and behold, women began to get jobs in symphony orchestras.”

16. “I said on the equality side of it, that it is essential to a woman’s equality with man that she be the decision-maker, that her choice be controlling.”

17. “When I graduated from law school in 1959, there wasn’t a single woman on any federal bench. It wouldn’t be a realistic ambition for a woman to want to become a federal judge. It wasn’t realistic until Jimmy Carter became our president.”

More Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes and Sayings

1. “I get very little sleep when the court is sitting.”

2. “I think we understand that for the Court to work well, we have to not only respect but genuinely like each other.”

3. “Arizona presents no specific reason for excepting capital defendants from the constitutional protections extended to defendants generally, and none is readily apparent.”

4. “I try to teach through my opinions, through my speeches, how wrong it is to judge people on the basis of what they look like, color of their skin, whether they’re men or women.”

5. “It is not like I have gone crazy, I just don’t want to take any chances. You never know what could happen.”

"It is not like I have gone crazy, I just don't want to take any chances. You never know what could happen." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #chances

6. “The entering class I joined in 1956 included just nine women, up from five in the then second-year class, and only one African American. All professors, in those now-ancient days, were of the same race and sex.”

7. “I was a proponent of the ERA. The women of my generation and my daughter’s generation, they were very active in moving along the social change that would result in equal citizenship stature for men and women.”

8. “I was part of Jazzercise class. It was an aerobics routine accompanied by loud music, sounding quite awful to me. Jazzercise was popular in the ’80s and ’90s.”

9. “So that’s the dissenter’s hope: that they are writing not for today but for tomorrow.”

10. “The women of my generation and my daughter’s generation, they were very active in moving along the social change that would result in equal citizenship stature for men and women.”

11. “Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”

12. “If you want to influence people, you want them to accept your suggestions, you don’t say, ‘You don’t know how to use the English language,’ or ‘How could you make that argument?’ It will be welcomed much more if you have a gentle touch than if you are aggressive.”

13. “Justice Scalia and I served together on the D.C. Circuit. So his votes are not surprising to me. What I like about him is that he’s very funny and very smart.”

14. “I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at.”

15. “When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out.”

"When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #word

16. “All I can say is I am sensitive to discrimination on any basis because I have experienced that upset.”

17. “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office.”

18. “My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.”

19. “You would have a huge statelessness problem if you don’t consider a child born abroad a U.S. citizen.”

20. “In truth, I did enjoy the benefits of a Harvard connection.”

21. “Who will take responsibility for raising the next generation?”

22. “It’s not simply to say, ‘My colleagues are wrong, and I would do it this way,’ but the greatest dissents do become court opinions.”

23. “It won’t happen. It would be an impossible dream. But I’d love to see ‘Citizens United’ overruled.”

24. “It is not women’s liberation, it is women’s and men’s liberation.”

25. “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

"Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #fight

26. “I will do this job as long as I feel that I can do it full steam.”

27. “I can’t imagine what this place would be – I can’t imagine what the country would be – with Donald Trump as our president.”

28. “Dissents speak to a future age.”

29. “The label ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative,’ any – every time I hear that, I think of the great Gilbert and Sullivan song from ‘Iolanthe.’ It goes, ‘Every gal and every boy that’s born alive is either a little liberal or else a little conservative.’ What do those labels mean? It depends on whose ox is being gored.”

30. “At Cornell University, my professor of European literature, Vladimir Nabokov, changed the way I read and the way I write. Words could paint pictures, I learned from him. Choosing the right word, and the right word order, he illustrated, could make an enormous difference in conveying an image or an idea.”

31. “Eight, as you know, is not a good number for a multi-member court.”

32. “She never envisioned a legal career for me, but she did think it was very important that I be able to support myself, and I think she would be pleased to see what has become of me.”

33. “If I had any talent that God could give me, I would be a great diva.”

34. “You can disagree without being disagreeable.”

35. “We had to go on and do the work of the court and we did.”

"We had to go on and do the work of the court and we did." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #work

36. “The notion that it is improper to look beyond the borders of the United States in grappling with hard questions has a certain kinship to the view that the U.S. Constitution is a document essentially frozen in time as of the date of its ratification.”

37. “You can’t have it all all at once. Over my lifespan, I think I have had it all, but in given periods in time, things were rough. And if you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it.”

38. “Most states in the union where the death penalty is theoretically on the books don’t have executions.”

39. “I don’t think that a Justice should have uppermost in her mind, ‘A Democratic president appointed me, so I must leave to be sure that another Democratic president can appoint my successor.’”

40. “America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores. All kinds of people. The image of the Statue of Liberty with Emma Lazarus’ famous poem. She lifts her lamp and welcomes people to the golden shore, where they will not experience prejudice because of the color of their skin, the religious faith that they follow.”

41. “My mother was a powerful influence. She made me toe the line. If I didn’t have a perfect report card, she showed her disappointment.”

42. “I’m sure I’ve changed my mind about something. Inevitably, when we grow up – as we get more experience and wiser. Well, I’ve changed my mind about some food that I didn’t like when I was young.”

43. “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the President stops being President in his last year.”

44. “Marty was an extraordinary person. Of all the boys I had dated, he was the only one who really cared that I had a brain. And he was always – well, making me feel that I was better than I thought I was.”

45. “If you’re going to change things, you have to be with the people who hold the levers.”

"If you're going to change things, you have to be with the people who hold the levers." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #people

46. “All respect for the office of the presidency aside, I assumed that the obvious and unadulterated decline of freedom and constitutional sovereignty, not to mention the efforts to curb the power of judicial review, spoke for itself.”

47. “The Sixth Amendment secures to persons charged with crime the right to be tried by an impartial jury reflecting a fair cross-section of the community.”

48. “Collegiality is crucial to the success of our mission. We could not do the job the Constitution assigns to us if we didn’t – to use one of Justice Antonin Scalia’s favorite expressions – ‘Get over it!’”

49. “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in 2012.”

50. “An operatic voice is like no other.”

51. “The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.”

52. “I certainly respect the belief of the Hobby Lobby owners. On the other hand, they have no constitutional right to foist that belief on the hundreds and hundreds of women who work for them who don’t share that belief.”

53. “I really concentrate on what’s on my plate at the moment and do the very best I can.”

54. “My mother graduated from high school at 15 and went to work to support the family because the eldest son went to college.”

55. “I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.”

"I'm a very strong believer in listening and learning from others." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #believer

56. “We have the oldest written constitution still in force in the world, and it starts out with three words, ‘We, the people.’”

57. “I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.”

58. “I do a variety of weight-lifting, elliptical glider, stretching exercises, push-ups.”

59. “I think Mozart’s operas ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ and ‘Don Giovanni’ are the two most perfect ever written. The music is magical.”

60. “It’s hard not to have a big year at the Supreme Court.”

61. “When police or prosecutors conceal significant exculpatory or impeaching material, we hold, it is ordinarily incumbent on the state to set the record straight.”

62. “Our goal in the ’70s was to end the closed door era. There were so many things that were off limits to women: policing, firefighting, mining, piloting planes.”

63. “At my advanced age – I’m now an octogenarian – I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who want to take my picture.”

64. “Frankly, I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

65. “Anybody who has been discriminated against, who comes from a group that’s been discriminated against, knows what it’s like.”

"Anybody who has been discriminated against, who comes from a group that's been discriminated against, knows what it's like." #ruthbaderginsburg #quotes #group

66. “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”

67. “My biographers… would like to have my time at the court almost complete before they finish the book. We decided… to flip the order.”

68. “I was a super once – an extra – in ‘Die Fledermaus,’ and was seated within three feet of Placido Domingo. I had never heard a voice of that beauty so close up. It felt as if an electric shock were running through me.”

69. “The experience I don’t want to see repeated occurred in ‘Bush v. Gore.’ The Court divided five to four. There were four separate dissents, and that confused the press. In fact, some of the reporters announced that the decision was seven-two. There was no time to get together.”

70. “If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be ‘Citizens United.’ I think the notion that we have all the democracy that money can buy strays so far from what our democracy is supposed to be.”

If you’d like to know more about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we recommend you read her autobiography My Own Words.

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