1954 - Ruth Bader Ginsburg (then known as Joan Ruth Bader) graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Arts in Government. While at Cornell, she met Martin D. ‘Marty’ Ginsburg, and married him a month after she graduated. She remained married to Martin until his death in 2010.
1956 - RBG enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she was one of only nine women in a class of 500 men. That year, the dean of Harvard Law invited all the female law students to his family home for dinner and asked all of them why they were attending Harvard and “taking the place of a man.” In his third year at Harvard, Martin Ginsburg fell ill and could not attend classes. RBG took notes on all of his classes and typed his term papers for him - while also taking care of their one year old daughter. When Martin took a job in New York, she transferred to Columbia University but was denied a Harvard degree - even though she finished the majority of her legal studies in Cambridge. She graduated first in her class at Columbia with a law degree.
1963 - Being female and a mother, RBG faced great difficulty with finding a job at a law firm. At least one job she applied to specifically said they were denying her because of her womanhood. Unable to work as a lawyer, she becomes a professor at Rutgers Law School, where she is informed that she will be paid less than her male colleagues because she “has a husband with a well-paying job.” At this time, she was one of less than 20 female law professors in the United States. She remained at Rutgers until 1972.
1972 - RBG co-founded the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. As the director of the project, she argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court between 1973 and 1976. The Court rules in her favor five out of those six times. Also during this year, she argued Moritz v. Commissioner before the 10th Circuit Court. In this landmark case, she represented Charles Moritz: a bachelor charged with the care of his elderly mother who was denied a caregiver’s tax exemption solely because he was a man. RBG argued that this discrimination was unconstitutional and demonstrated that inequities in the law harm not only women but society as a whole. The story of this case is told in further detail in the 2018 film On the Basis of Sex.
1980 - President Jimmy Carter nominated RBG to the DC Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. She was confirmed on June 18, 1980, and served as a judge there until her nomination to the Supreme Court.
1993 - RBD was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton. The United States Senate confirmed her nomination 96-3. She is the second woman and first Jewish woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. She quickly became known as a cautious jurist and a fiery dissenter.
1999 - RBG was diagnosed with colon cancer, the first of her five bouts with the disease. During the process of treatment, she did not miss a day on the bench.
2009 - RBG was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent surgery.
2010s - As the Court shifted right, and the presidency transitioned from Obama to Trump, RBG became a pop culture icon among the left-wing, picking up the moniker “Notorious RBG” after the rapper Notorious BIG. A documentary film, titled simply RBG, is released, as is the film On the Basis of Sex.
2018 - RBG was diagnosed with and underwent surgery for lung cancer. This was the first time she missed the oral argument of a case.
2020 - She battled cancer again, this time for the last time. On September 18, 2020, the eve of Rosh Hashanah and six weeks before the 2020 presidential election, she passed away in her Washington, DC home at the age of 87. In a letter dictated to her granddaughter, she stated that her “most fervent wish” was that her successor not be chosen until a new president was installed. A national outpouring of grief followed her death, and she became the first woman to lie in state in the US Capitol building. She is buried alongside her husband Martin.