Sisterhood Blog

Remembering Martin Ginsburg: The Man Behind the First Jewish Woman on the Supreme Court

By Jane Eisner

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images

I had the privilege of meeting Martin Ginsburg only once. It was in March 2008, and I was directing the Peter Jennings Project for Journalists and the Constitution at the National Constitution Center. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Martin’s illustrious wife, was our keynote guest, and I had the honor of bringing the couple around the Constitution Center’s wonderful permanent exhibit.

He walked slowly, more slowly than she did, and stayed a few steps behind, almost as in deference to a queen. He was kind and unpretentious, and but for the presence of a federal marshal, they looked just like any elderly Jewish couple with a deep interest in the law touring an exhibit devoted to the relevance of the U.S. Constitution.

I thought of that scene last night, when I read that Martin Ginsburg died at 78 years old, after fighting cancer. A stellar legal mind and professor in his own right, he embodies the kind of man that is both rare and noble — a man who, long before it was fashionable, supported the career choices of his wife, no doubt sacrificing his own shot at the limelight along the way.

When she was appointed to the federal appellate bench, he moved to Washington with her. A self-acknowledged terrible cook, she relinquished kitchen duties to him early on in their 56-year marriage.

Justice Ginsburg has said that without the strong personal and political support of her husband, she might never have become only the second woman — and the first Jewish woman — to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Her husband’s take on all this: ”I have been supportive of my wife since the beginning of time, and she has been supportive of me,” he is quoted in the New York Times. “It’s not sacrifice; it’s family.”

As much fuss as we rightly make over the women who push through strong barriers to achieve a role that had been denied their foremothers, let’s not forget the husbands like Martin Ginsburg, whose support and encouragement made a lonely fight into a joint struggle.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Martin Ginsburg

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.