Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the oft-described unstoppable, passionate, and fiery United States Supreme Court justice, has become something of a cult figure among law students. Empowered by her rage at civil rights violations and the lack of gender equality, these students created a new persona for her, the Notorious R.B.G., and showed their appreciation of her by posting tributes on social media. From this media storm comes Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a new book by the law student who created the Notorious R.B.G. Tumblr and the journalist who interviewed Justice Ginsburg for MSNBC. An illuminating, yet humorous, look into the life, losses, and successes of this diminutive and, at times, underestimated jurist, Notorious RBG captures the essence of this remarkable woman who became only the second woman to serve on our nation’s highest court.
Always a champion of women’s rights and gender equality, Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew first-hand the difficulties that women faced in the workplace and in institutions of higher learning and the pressures associated with gender inequality. She was one of nine women in her class at Harvard Law School and had difficulty getting a job, even though she graduated at the top of her class from Columbia Law School. She was the first woman to teach full-time at Rutgers School of Law and later became Columbia’s first tenured female professor. While at Columbia, she even helped file a class action lawsuit against the university and continued to volunteer her time with the ACLU.
If it is true that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, then the legal writings of Ruth Bader Ginsburg can truly cut to the heart of an issue. Known for her dissents, Justice Ginsburg has always remained steadfast to her beliefs and her desire to correct injustices. Notorious RBG also features excerpts and analyses of some of Justice Ginsburg’s most significant briefs, opinions, and dissents:
- Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S. 71 (1971) (a gender discrimination case in which a mother was not entitled to possessions owned by deceased son) ;
- Struck v. Secretary of Defense, 460 F 2d 1372 (1971) (case in which an air force nurse refused to get abortion as required by Air Force regulations) ;
- United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) (case involving the refusal of Virginia Military Institute to admit women);
- Gonzales v. Carhart, 550 U.S. 124 (2007) (case that upheld partial-birth abortion ban);
- Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company 550 U.S. 618 (2014) (an employment discrimination case based on gender) ; and
- Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013) (case dealing with the Voting Rights Act).
The authors also look into her sixty-year relationship with her beloved husband Marty, who passed away in 2010, her unlikely friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, her ideological opposite, her perfectionism when drafting opinions, her workouts with her personal trainer, and, of course, those lacy jabots she wears on the bench.
There is so much more to Ruth Bader Ginsburg than meets the eye. Learn about her in Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and find out why she is such an Internet sensation.
By the way, in case you didn't know, today (March 15) is RBG's 85 birthday. How fitting that it comes during National Women's History Month.