Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Born Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York, Ruth Bader Ginsburg served as an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States for 27 years. An exceptional student, Ginsburg graduated at the top of her class from Cornell University. From 1956-1958, Ginsburg was a student at Harvard Law School, where she was the first woman member and editor of the Harvard Law Review. In 1958, Ginsburg moved to New York. She was admitted to Columbia Law School, where she graduated, tied for first in her class, in 1959. Ginsburg became the first woman tenured faculty member at Columbia Law School in 1972.

During the 1970s, Ginsburg was the founding director of the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. In this position, Ginsburg successfully argued for the plaintiff in gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, including Frontiero v. Richardson (1973), where the Court ruled that husbands could be considered their wives’ dependents for U.S. military benefits. In Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, Ginsburg argued before the Supreme Court that the Social Security Act unlawfully discriminated on the basis of gender when denying survivors’ benefits to widowers. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling in favor of the plaintiff.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Cmte. Committee / R. Michael Jenkins, Congressional Quarterly. R. Michael Jenkins, photographer, 1993. [Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly, 7-21-93] Prints & Photographs Division.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. President Bill Clinton appointed Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993. Justice Ginsburg wrote opinions on numerous cases involving gender discrimination. In 1996, Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, ruling that the Virginia Military Institute could not deny admission to qualified female applicants.

Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., on September 18, 2020, at the age of 87. Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol.

Learn More

The Pine Tree State

Maine, formerly part of Massachusetts, faced a complicated journey to become the 23rd state of the Union. At the time of Maine’s request for statehood, there were an equal number of free and slaveholding states. Pro-slavery United States congressmen saw the admission of another free state, Maine, as a threat to the balance between slaveholding and free states. The pro-slavery wing of Congress would only grant statehood to Maine if Missouri, a slaveholding territory, would be admitted to the Union as a slave state. MaineExternal became a state on March 15, 1820, following the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave-holding state and Maine as a free state.

Devil’s Pulpit, Bald Head Cliff, York, Maine. [ca.1900]. Detroit Publishing Company. Prints & Photographs Division

Congressional representative John Holmes, a delegate to the Maine constitutional convention, explained his position on the Missouri Compromise in a letter to the people of Maine. Maine’s admission to the Union revealed the United States’ sectional conflict over slavery.

Maine is noted for its picturesque coastline and dense woodlands. Even today, ninety percent of Maine remains forested.

An October 2017 aerial view of the forest and tidal marshes near Wells, Maine. Carol M. Highsmith, photographer, 10-18-2017. Highsmith (Carol M.) Archive. Prints & Photographs Division.

Explorer Samuel de Champlain reached the coast of Maine in 1604 and claimed it as part of the French province of Acadia. France and Britain disputed ownership until 1763, when the region was ceded to the British during negotiations ending the French and Indian War.

In the nineteenth century, jobs in the timber industry lured many French-speaking Canadians to Maine. Vital Martin, a Canadian who moved to Maine in 1898, found the woods of Penobscot County crowded in comparison to rural Canada. “Me, I don’t like to go out in the woods to hunt here,” Martin admitted in a 1938 American Life Histories interview. “It is too dangerous,” he continued, “You never can tell when someone will kill you for something else.” For the most part, the French speaking Martin preferred the civilized comforts of Old Town, Maine to the isolated country life he knew as a child in Canada:

I wouldn’t want to go back there,…This is a much better place…This job is steady the year around, an’ she’s not hard. I have a little garden there an’ I Keep the hen…The work is much easier now for the womans. She have the washer, the Frigidhaire [sic], an’ the electric light, an’ she have the water on the sink. Yes sir, the world has improved very much since I live in Canada.

Personal History of Vital Martin.” Robert Grady, interviewer; Old Town, Maine, 1938. American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940. Manuscript Division

Children Gathering Potatoes…, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Jack Delano, photographer, Oct. 1940. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Color Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division
Kennebunkport, Maine. Smith Bros. Printing Co., c1911. Panoramic Photographs. Prints & Photographs Division

Maine is the most sparsely populated state east of the Mississippi. Over the years, city dwellers have sought solitude in its forests and along its rocky coast. A fashionable resort since the early twentieth century, Kennebunkport remains a favorite vacation destination for members of the Bush family.

Learn More