120 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes to Empower Women

Here are the top 120 most badass Ruth Bader Ginsburg quotes that’ll show you why she’s been dubbed as the ‘Notorious RBG.’

In her lifetime and in more than 2 decades of serving as a justice on the Supreme Court, there’s no denying that Ruth Bader Ginsburg proved how women—no matter what age or race—can succeed in any career she wants to.

She broke records as the second female and first Jewish justice of the Supreme Court, and she believed that the law and the Constitution is gender-blind and everyone was entitled to equal rights.

Find out more about her contributions in the list below.

And make sure to read these Kamala Harris quotes and Barack Obama quotes.

Best Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Work for the things that you care about.

1. “Work for the things that you care about.”

2. “I am a judge born, raised, and proud of being a Jew. The demand for justice runs through the entirety of the Jewish tradition.”

3. “Sometimes, people say unkind or thoughtless things, and when they do, it is best to be a little hard of hearing—to tune out and not snap back in anger or impatience.”

4. “Women’s rights are an essential part of the overall human rights agenda, trained on the equal dignity and ability to live in freedom all people should enjoy.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life.

5. “Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life.”

6. “I didn’t change the Constitution; the equality principle was there from the start. I just was an advocate for seeing its full realization.”

7. “If there was one decision I would overrule, it would be Citizens United.”

8. “Whatever community organization, whether it’s a women’s organization, or fighting for racial justice, you will get satisfaction out of doing something to give back to the community that you never get in any other way.”

9. “Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Real change - enduring change - happens one step at a time.

10. “Real change—enduring change—happens one step at a time.”

11. “Promoting active liberty does not mean allowing the majority to run roughshod over minorities. It calls for taking special care that all groups have a chance to fully participate in society and the political process.”

12. “We live in an age in which the fundamental principles to which we subscribe—liberty, equality, and justice for all—are encountering extraordinary challenges. But it is also an age in which we can join hands with others who hold to those principles and face similar challenges.”

13. “The greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually, over time, their views become the dominant view.”

14. “We should learn to do our best for the sake of our communities and for the sake of those for whom we pave the way.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.

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

16. “Anger, resentment, envy, and self-pity are wasteful reactions. They greatly drain one’s time. They sap energy better devoted to productive endeavors.”

17. “If we gave up our freedom as the price of security, we would no longer be the great nation that we are.”

18. “Yes, women are here to stay.”

19. “If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes on Pride, Self-Importance, and America

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - We have the oldest written constitution still in force in the world, and it starts out with three words, 'We, the people.'

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

21. “Spend no time fretting, and find a way to do what I thought was important to get done.”

22. “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. And the stereotypical view of people of a world divided between home and child caring women and men as breadwinners, men representing the family outside the home.”

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

24. “Speak your mind even if your voice shakes.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Be independent and be a lady.

25. “Be independent and be a lady.”

26. “I ask no favor for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”

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

28. “I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”

29. “I don’t say women’s rights—I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship status of men and women.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - I'm a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.

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

31. “My mother was very strong about my doing well in school and living up to my potential.”

32. “If you want to influence people, and 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.”

33. “Each part of my life provided respite from the other and gave me a sense of proportion that classmates trained only on law studies lacked.”

34. “We still have many neighborhoods that are racially identified. We still have many schools that even though the days of state-enforced segregation are gone, segregation because of geographical boundaries remains.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at.

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

36. “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.”

37. “What the United States does, for good or for ill, continues to be watched by the international community, in particular by organizations concerned with the advancement of the rule of law and respect for human dignity.”

38. “America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores—all kinds of people.”

39. “So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes on Justice and Law

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - The Second Amendment is outdated in the sense that its function has become obsolete.

40. “The Second Amendment is outdated in the sense that its function has become obsolete.”

41. “My objective was to take the Court step by step to the realization, in Justice Brennan’s words, that the pedestal on which some thought women were standing all too often turned out to be a cage.”

42. “There is a Constitutional right to prostitution.”

43. “A Constitution, as important as it is, will mean nothing unless the people are yearning for liberty and freedom.”

44. “A prime part of the history of our Constitution is the story of the extension of constitutional rights to people once ignored or excluded.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.

45. “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.”

46. “Congress could always stop the President if Congress thinks that what the President has done exceeds the President’s authority or is just wrong for the United States.”

47. “Historically, the new government had no money to pay for an army, so they relied on the state militias. And the states required men to have certain weapons and they specified in the law what weapons these people had to keep in their home so that when they were called to do service as militiamen, they would have them. That was the entire purpose of the Second Amendment.”

48. “The greatest threat to public confidence in elections, in this case, is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law—one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.”

49. “Even the Declaration of Independence starts out all men are created equal, so I see my advocacy as part of an effort to make the equality principle everything the founders would have wanted it to be if they weren’t held back by the society in which they lived and particularly the shame of slavery.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - I do hope that some of my dissents will one day be the law.

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

51. “I have yet to see a death case among the dozen coming to the Supreme Court on eve-of-execution stay applications in which the defendant was well represented at trial.”

52. “In my view, if the Court had properly interpreted the Second Amendment, the Court would have said that the Amendment was very important when the nation was new. It gave a qualified right to keep and bear arms but it was for one purpose only, and that was the purpose of having militiamen who were able to fight to preserve the nation.”

53. “People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty.”

54. “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.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - The United States is subject to the scrutiny of a candid world.

55. “The United States is subject to the scrutiny of a candid world.”

56. “The Second Amendment has a preamble about the need for a militia, because there is a need for a militia to be at the ready. Therefore, the right to keep and bear arms must be secured.”

57. “One might plausibly contend that Congress violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers when it exonerates itself from the impositions of the laws it obligates people outside the legislature to obey.”

58. “If you ask judges, ‘Do you always agree on everything?’ Of course not. We divide just as you do. ‘Why aren’t you transparent about it?’ Because the people would begin to think that the law is not stable, the law is unclear. And that would not give them much faith in the law.”

59. “Members of the legislature,people who have run for office, know the connection between money and influence on what laws get passed.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Undocumented aliens unfortunately are not protected by the law and they are tremendously subjected to exploitation.

60. “Undocumented aliens unfortunately are not protected by the law and they are tremendously subjected to exploitation. The result is that they would be willing to work for a wage that no person who is welcome in our shores would take.”

61. “Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems so obvious to me.”

62. “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.”

63. “People who have been hard working, 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.”

64. “In most civil law systems, there are no dissents. There is a single opinion for the court—it is unanimous; it is highly stylized; you can’t tell which judge wrote it.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith.

65. “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.”

66. “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.”

67. “Depriving a parent of parental status is as devastating as a criminal conviction.”

68. “We care about this institution more than our individual egos, and we are all devoted to keeping the Supreme Court in the place that it is—as a co-equal third branch of government and I think a model for the world in the collegiality and independence of judges.”

69. “Time is on the side of change.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes on Women and Equality

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - It is not women's liberation - it is women's and men's liberation.

70. “It is not women’s liberation—it is women’s and men’s liberation.”

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

72. “There wasn’t a great understanding of gender discrimination. People knew that race discrimination was an odious thing, but there were many who thought that all the gender-based differentials in the law operated benignly in women’s favor.”

73. “Every constitution written since the end of World War II includes a provision that men and women are citizens of equal stature. Ours does not.”

74. “My mother told me two things constantly. One was to be a lady, and the other was to be independent. The study of law was unusual for women of my generation. For most girls growing up in the ’40s, the most important degree was not your B.A., but your M.R.S.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion, but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.

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

76. “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.”

77. “Adult women are able to make decisions about their own lives’ course no less than men are.”

78. “I do think that being the second female Supreme Court Justice is wonderful, because it is a sign that being a woman in a place of importance is no longer extraordinary.”

79. “One thing that concerns me is that today’s young women don’t seem to care that we have a fundamental instrument of government that makes no express statement about the equal citizenship stature of men and women. They know there are no closed doors anymore, and they may take for granted the rights that they have.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - 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.

80. “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.”

81. “The Court recognizes the persistence of racial inequality and a majority’s acknowledgement of Congress’s authority to act affirmatively, not only to end discrimination, but also to counteract discrimination’s lingering effects.”

82. “Those effects, reflective of a system of racial caste, legal segregation, and discrimination only recently ended, are evident in our work places, markets, and neighborhoods.”

83. “Job applicants with identical resumes, qualifications, and interview styles still experience different receptions, depending on their race.”

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

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - The irony and tragedy is any woman of means can have a safe abortion somewhere in the United States.

85. “The irony and tragedy is any woman of means can have a safe abortion somewhere in the United States. But women lacking the wherewithal to travel can’t. There is no big constituency out there concerned about access restrictions on poor women.”

86. “Throwing out pre-clearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

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

88. “I became a lawyer for selfish reasons. I thought I could do a lawyer’s job better than any other.”

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

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.

90. “Racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact. To the contrary, Texas has been found in violation of the Voting Rights Act in every redistricting cycle from and after 1970.”

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

92. “You’re saying no state said two kinds of marriage; the full marriage, and then this sort of skim-milk marriage.”

93. “Every gal and every boy that’s born alive is either a little liberal or else a little conservative.”

94. “As De Tocqueville said, sooner or later in the United States, every controversy ends up in court. I think that’s great—it says great things about our judicial system.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - My rule was, I will not answer a question that attempts to project how I will rule in a case that might come before the court.

95. “My rule was, I will not answer a question that attempts to project how I will rule in a case that might come before the court.”

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

97. “Generalizations about the ‘way women are’ and estimates of what is appropriate for most women no longer justify denying opportunity to women whose talent and capacity place them outside the average description.”

98. “I think the side that wants to take the choice away from women and give it to the state, they’re fighting a losing battle.”

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

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes on God, Truth, and Life

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - That's what I think a meaningful life is - living not for oneself, but for one's community.

100. “To make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. That’s what I think a meaningful life is—living not for oneself, but for one’s community.”

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

102. “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.”

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

104. “It’s great to be in the position of asking questions and not having to answer questions.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - I think our system is being polluted by money.

105. “I think our system is being polluted by money.”

106. “When contemplated in its extreme, almost any power looks dangerous.”

107. “So that’s the dissenter’s hope—that they are writing not for today, but for tomorrow.”

108. “There are some singers that know exactly when to go, and others hang on much too long and that is the same—that is the same with judges.”

109. “The written argument endures. The oral argument is fleeting.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - My dissenting opinions, like my briefs, are intended to persuade.

110. “My dissenting opinions, like my briefs, are intended to persuade. And sometimes, one must be forceful about saying how wrong the Court’s decision is.”

111. “Prisons should be co-ed because separate quarters are discriminatory.”

112. “You can’t have it all, all at once. Who—man or woman—has it all, all at once? Over my lifespan I think I have had it all. But in different periods of time things were rough.”

113. “My own view, and I’ve said this many times, is as long as I can do the work full steam, I will stay on the Court. But when I feel myself slipping, when I slow down in my ability to write opinions with fair dispatch, when I forget the names of cases that I once could recite at the drop of a hat, I will know it is time for me to go.”

114. “No one who is in business for profit can foist his or her beliefs on a workforce that includes many people who do not share those beliefs.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - Work hard on each opinion, but once the case is decided, don't look back; go on to the next case and give it your all.

115. “Work hard on each opinion, but once the case is decided, don’t look back; go on to the next case and give it your all.”

116. “It’s not productive to worry about what’s out and released, over and done. That’s advice I now give to people new to the judging business.”

117. “One aspect of appellate judging is we have to give reasons for all of our decisions. And when you sit down and try to write it out, sometimes you find that your first judgment wasn’t the right one.”

118. “Legislators know much more about elections than the Court does.”

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

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quote - You can disagree without being disagreeable.

120. “You can disagree without being disagreeable.”

Did These Ruth Bader Ginsburg Quotes Inspire You to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone and Fight for What You Believe In?

As someone who experienced first-hand what it was like to be discriminated against ‘just for being a woman,’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg made it her life’s mission to be a pillar and a strong voice that championed gender equality, the rights of workers, and the importance of the separation of the church and state.

On top of being successful in her career, she used this as a chance to spread the word, influence, and inspire—to always fight for what’s right and for your truth. It doesn’t matter if you’re alone in the beginning.

If you show the world you’re confident in your beliefs and actively fight for them, one step at a time, you’ll be closer to your goals and you’ll find that you’re able to win people over to your side. Just speak the truth, always, and you’ll always find the light at the end of the tunnel.

What other contributions of Ruth Bader Ginsburg do you want to add? How did the quotes in this collection inspire you? Let us know in the comments below.


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Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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