Martin D. Ginsburg: Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Husband?

Martin Ginsburg and wife Ruth Bader Ginsburg appear at an event at the White House.
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Martin D. Ginsburg was the husband of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday at the age of 87.

The passing of the longtime gender equality advocate and Supreme Court stalwart has led to new attention for her late husband, who passed away in 2010 following a battle with cancer. Like his partner, Martin Ginsburg was heavily involved in the legal profession, serving as a lawyer with a specialty in taxation and a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center.


Couple Were Married For 56 Years

Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at an event.
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As NPR reported after the death of Martin Ginsburg in 2010, the couple’s relationship was a “56-year marathon of love and support.”

The report noted that they had met on a blind date while they were students at Cornell University. She was just 17 at the time and he was 18. Though they were both academic standouts at the Ivy League institution, Martin Ginsburg said at the time that she was a “top student” while he was a “top golfer.”

They were married after her graduation from Cornell, and both were accepted to Harvard Law School. They chose to take a detour and move to Oklahoma after he was drafted — a change of plans that he said ended up being the best thing for their marriage.

“We had nearly two whole years far from school, far from career pressures and far from relatives, to learn about each other and begin to build a life,” he said.

They later returned to Harvard and settled into married life. Martin Ginsburg eventually gained fame as a tax lawyer and as a cook, which he said was out of necessity due to his wife’s deficiencies in the kitchen.

“I learned very early in our marriage,” he said, “that Ruth was a fairly terrible cook, and, for lack of interest, unlikely to improve. Out of self-preservation, I decided I had better learn to cook.”

Their marriage was later remembered by son James Ginsburg, who wrote in a column for The Hollywood Reporter that the pair had an “equal partnership” that emphasized their growing family at the time that both of their careers were on the rise.

“Once he made partner and began running the tax department at his firm, he emphasized the importance of family: While other parts of the firm toiled late into the night, those in Marty’s department were always headed home by 7 p.m. to have dinner with their loved ones,” he wrote.


Martin Helped Shape His Wife’s Quest For Gender Equality

Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears at an event.
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As the NPR report added, it was Martin Ginsburg’s own legal work that helped to set his wife on a path to seek gender equality. He had been working on a tax case and earned a victory in lower courts, but the government appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the decision would cast doubt on the many existing federal statutes treating men and women differently.

The fact that this inequality was built into the legal system motivated Ruth Bader Ginsburg to bring change.

“These were the statutes that my wife then litigated against to overturn over the next decade,” he said.