Who Was Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Husband? All About Marty Ginsburg

Marty and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were married from 1954 until his death in 2010

Obit Martin Ginsburg, New York, USA
Photo: Ed Bailey/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Even before the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg's relationship with her husband Martin "Marty" Ginsburg made it on-screen in the 2018 film On the Basis of Sex, their real-life romance was well-known.

"They loved each other," said Daniel Stieplman, the Supreme Court justice's nephew who wrote the screenplay of On the Basis of Sex. "They also admired each other so much."

The film revealed how a young Ginsburg went on to fight for gender equality with the unwavering support of her husband, a highly successful tax lawyer.

Married for 56 years until Marty's death in 2010, the couple raised two children, Jane and James. Ruth — who died at 87 in 2020 — worked for decades changing laws that discriminated based on gender — with Marty's complete support.

"Ruth has two foundations in her life," longtime friend Nina Totenberg told PEOPLE in 2018. "One is her family, and the other is the law. Her marriage to Marty was the blood that ran through her veins."

Here's everything to know about Marty Ginsburg and his relationship with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

He met Ruth on a blind date

Marty and Ruth met on a blind date in 1950 while both were students at Cornell University. Marty later recalled his first thought was, "She's awfully cute."

"Then he noticed, she's awfully smart," said their son James Ginsburg. "Mom said Dad was the only boy who dated her who cared that she had a brain."

They married at his parents' home

The couple was married on June 23, 1954, just weeks after he graduated from Cornell. The wedding was held at his parents' home on Long Island, New York.

He served in the U.S. Army Reserve

Martin D Ginsburg (1932 - 2010) and US Court of Appeals (for the District of Columbia) Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933 - 2020) kiss prior to the latter's Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Capitol Hill, Washington DC, July 20, 1993
Ron Sachs/CNP/Getty

Marty finished his first year at Harvard Law School after graduating from Cornell; Ruth intended to go to Harvard Law following graduation. However, the couple's plans changed when Marty was called to serve in the U.S. Army Reserve at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, for two years.

He saw their time at Fort Sill as an opportunity to strengthen their relationship.

"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," Marty said.

They shared two children

The Ginsburgs. Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Marty and Ruth had two children. They welcomed Jane Carol Ginsburg in 1955 and James Steven Ginsburg in 1965.

Jane followed in her parents' famous footsteps and became an attorney and law school educator. James is a producer of classical music and president of Cedille Records.

He was an "incredibly progressive dude"

Armie Hammer plays Marty in the 2018 film and developed a deep admiration for the man.

"They existed in a completely gender-equal relationship," Hammer told Jess Cagle during SiriusXM's Entertainment Weekly Radio Spotlight. "He was an incredibly progressive dude … He cooked, he cleaned, he took care of the house. He did whatever it took in order to facilitate his wife being able to achieve what she did."

Marty supported his wife throughout their marriage and was self-assured. Marty "was so confident that of course he should have the most beautiful, brilliant wife, and he wanted to celebrate her," his nephew explained.

He became the family chef in order to spare them from Ginsburg's cooking

After receiving a French cookbook as a gift, Marty worked his way through it. "Dad said it was for his own survival," son James told PEOPLE. "Mom's cooking was that bad." (Especially her tuna fish casserole, which the family begged her not to make.)

He continued to cook throughout their marriage. Marty even joined the Supreme Court's "spouses club," said Ruth's childhood friend Ann Kittner, "because he wanted to cook when they all got together."

His clients included billionaire Ross Perot

Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones in On the Basis of Sex. Focus Features

As a tax attorney with the Washington, DC law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, Marty handled many cases with wealthy clients.

One of his wealthiest clients was Perot, the Texas billionaire and two-time Presidential candidate. The two became friends, and as payment for his work, Perot later endowed the Martin Ginsburg chair in taxation at Georgetown University Law Center.

He would have "loved" the sexier scenes in On the Basis of Sex

During the New York City premiere of On the Basis of Sex, Ruth was asked how her husband would feel about the film's sex scene. "My children would probably agree with me that their daddy would have loved it," she said.

They took care of each other through their cancer treatments

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Martin Ginsburg
The Ginsburgs. Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

In 1955, when the couple was still attending Harvard Law School, Marty was diagnosed with testicular cancer and told he had a five percent chance of living. Ruth helped him graduate, often typing up his class notes before starting her work at 2 a.m. while serving as the primary caretaker for their 3-year-old daughter.

Their roles switched later in life when Ruth first battled colon cancer and later pancreatic cancer. She became Marty's caretaker again when he was diagnosed with the cancer that took his life in 2010. "She wouldn't accept help," said Totenberg. "She was doing double duty, caring for her dying husband and being a Supreme Court Justice."

He supported Ginsburg in all things, from her career to golf

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with husband Martin Ginsburg
Annie Groer/The Washington Post

From campaigning for her nomination to the Supreme Court to encouraging her during a round of golf, Marty was always Ruth's biggest champion. Marty also campaigned on her behalf to ensure she was a top contender for the Supreme Court nomination, though it was Ruth's meeting with President Clinton that won her the seat.

"He was the one that had the connections and made sure that the right people knew about her," said Ruth's childhood friend Harryette Helsel. "He pushed her."

He even encouraged her when she was losing at golf.

"We'd be on a 400-yard hole, and Ruth would hit the ball maybe 20 yards," Marty's law school classmate Arthur Miller recalled. "Marty would say, 'Sweetheart, that's unbelievable. You're going to make a birdie this hole?' She would just start laughing.'"

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