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Husband of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies

Martin D. Ginsburg, 78, a Georgetown University tax law professor whose blind date more than a half-century ago with a quiet undergraduate named Ruth Bader blossomed into an enduring marriage, died June 27 of complications from metastatic cancer at his home in Washington. ginsburg.jpg

Mr. Ginsburg joined the Georgetown faculty about 30 years ago and was one of the nation's preeminent tax law experts. He was also the doting husband of history's second female Supreme Court Justice, playing the roles of sounding board, moral supporter and intellectual sparring partner.

The couple celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary on June 23. The foundation of their relationship, they both said, was mutual respect and equality.

Soon after their wedding, young Army lieutenant Ginsburg was assigned to an artillery unit at Fort Sill, Okla. One night, Mrs. Ginsburg presented her husband with a dish he immediately deemed inedible.

"What is it?" he asked.

"It's tuna fish casserole," she replied.

From then on, Mr. Ginsburg took over dinner duties, finding inspiration in an English translation of an Escoffier cookbook that had been a wedding gift.

"As a general rule," Mr. Ginsburg told the New York Times in 1997, "my wife does not give me any advice about cooking, and I do not give her advice about the law. This seems to work quite well on both sides."

In addition to his wife, survivors include two children, Jane Carol Ginsburg, a law professor at Columbia University, and James Steven Ginsburg, founder and president of the Chicago Classical Recording Foundation; and four grandchildren.

A full obituary will follow.

UPDATE: In a statement, Judith Areen, interim dean of Georgetown's law school, said Mr. Ginsburg "was not only one of the most innovative legal thinkers of our time, he was a gifted teacher and respected colleague. He will be deeply missed."

--T. Rees Shapiro

By Emma Brown  |  June 27, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories:  Taylor Shapiro , Washington DC-area people  | Tags: martin ginsburg died, ruth bader ginsburg, ruth bader ginsburg's husband died, supreme court justice husband died  
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Posted by: askgees | June 27, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

My heart and prayers goes out to her and her family. God Bless.


Posted by: charleymiller2010 | June 27, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I had the great pleasure of studying with both Marty and Ruth Ginsburg in the late 1970s at Columbia U. Law School. Marty was without doubt the most engaging and delightful professor on the faculty, able to take a subject (tax law) unversally acknowledged as dry and turn it into the most enjoyable and riveting of class experiences. He and Ruth were the classic examples of "opposites attracting"; she presenting a quiet, studious and rather prim persona to the world, and he being always the Hail-Fellow-Well-Met, gregarious life of the party. At the same time, they shared an extremely close, loving, and mutually respectful partnership, as well as brilliant legal minds. Marty Ginsburg will be missed by all who knew him. I wish Justice Ginsburg and their family the comfort of knowing that his was a life well and fully lived.

Posted by: nan_lynn | June 27, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry for Ms. Ginsberg's loss. I just hope she hangs in there until 2013 so a conservative can take her place.

Posted by: Pilot1 | June 27, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse


To Pilot1- Inappropriate and gratuitous - shame on you

Posted by: AmericanLiberalElite | June 27, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, AmericanLiberalElite. My sentiments exactly. And for whatever it's worth, Pilot1, don't bet on it. I strongly suspect that if (or rather, when) Elena Kagan is confirmed as the next Justice, Ruth Ginsburg will retire. (As Kagan represents the same demographic, and Ginsburg, too, has been battling cancer.)

Posted by: nan_lynn | June 27, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Sincere condolences to Justice Ginsburg, to Professor Jane Ginsburg and James Ginsburg, and to the other members of their family.

Upon reflection, it must take a person with quite some strength of character to be the spouse of any individual who has the intelligence, analytical ability, determination and drive to be a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, of either gender. Given the length of time it has taken our society to recognize the contributions which female jurists have to offer, and the difficulty which many still appear to have with that concept, it may perhaps require a particularly strong personality to be the committed, loving and supportive spouse of a female Justice of that Court.

Citizens care so greatly about issues which come before the Court, and sometimes disagree so profoundly with the philosophies and perspectives of one or another of the individual Justices on the Court, that they often heap calumny upon the heads of individual Justices without reflecting that those Justices are people who each make a personal commitment to serve our country, and without thinking about the demands which such service makes upon the members of each Justice's family.

Whatever one's personal perspective, it is worth looking back over the recent history of the Court and thinking about such things. Chief Justice Rehnquist, though gravely ill, continued to serve in office until the day he died -- without the companionship of his late wife Nan, who had died in the 1990s. Justice O'Connor retired from the Court so that she could devote more time and attention to caring for her husband, who suffered from a long-term and progressively more serious illness. Such things touch the hearts even of people who differed with their judicial philosophies.

Personally, I consider Justice Ginsburg to have made a strong contribution to the development of our country's constitutional jurisprudence. I hope that even those who do not share that perspective will join me, however, in sympathizing with her loss of her husband of more than 50 years, and in wishing her and her family well at this difficult time in their lives. I am sure that Professor Martin Ginsburg made many personal sacrifices of one sort or another over the years in connection with Justice Ginsburg's service on the Court. Let us remember that with appreciation, kindness and charity, and save debates over the Court's decisions for another day.

Posted by: 02Pete | June 27, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

RIP to a legend in the field of tax law. Marty Ginsburg also had a great sense of humor; he used to joke that he taught at Columbia until he was forced to move to DC when his wife "found a good job there".

Posted by: terminator_x | June 27, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

I had the good fortune to take a course on Corporate Taxation from Marty Ginsburg in 1986, when he was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law. On the last day of class, he strolled into class and announced that Congress had just passed tax reform legislation, and "everything I just taught you is now wrong. But I'm going to test you on it anyway."

Professor Ginsburg was one of the best teachers I have ever had, and probably the funniest. He will be missed.

Posted by: thrh | June 27, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Rest in peace. I had the pleasure of meeting both. I thought he was a very nice man. They seemed very happy together.

Posted by: john_bruckner | June 27, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I am sorry for Ms. Ginsberg's loss. I just hope she hangs in there until 2013 so a conservative can take her place.

Posted by: Pilot1 | June 27, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

May you receive the same compassion when your time comes.

Barnyard animal.

Posted by: Smibert | June 27, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

My sincere condolences to Justice Ginsburg and Prof Ginsburg's family and friends.

Wash Post: Very classy title. Is there anyone left at the Post with judgment?

Posted by: dcc1968 | June 27, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

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