Star: Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Partial list of interviews: Former President Bill Clinton, Clara Spera, Marty Ginsburg, Jane Ginsburg, James Ginsburg, Gloria Steinum and the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Directors: Julie Cohen and Betsy West
Composer: Miriam Cutler
Participant Media/CNN Films
Rating: no rating but could be PG for pre-teen and above
Running Length: 90 minutes
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is well into her eighties, but don’t tell her that. In this inciteful documentary, we go into the private life of RBG and see her as a law student, meeting her future husband, her dedication to equality for everyone, her exercise program and even the judicial collars she wears for special occasions. Her audiences enjoy her wit and knowledge and, whatever age the audience, they know she has been, is now, and will be, for them. Ginsburg’s nickname is “Notorious RBG” from a rapper of almost the same name, and there are even t-shirts with this logo, plus a book. What did her husband and family think of this fame? The late Marty Ginsburg (a famed tax attorney) was the cook in the family and Ruth was not allowed in the kitchen upon orders of the children, who “had taste.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn and her wanting to be a lawyer was taken to heart by her parents, who sent her first to Harvard. At that time, almost 70 years ago, there were few women law students at Harvard, and Ruth was one of nine students in a 500-member class. After marrying Marty and having children, Ruth continued her studies at Columbia. When Ruth graduated from Columbia, there was a Dean’s luncheon for the graduates and she was asked why she had attended, because she took away a place that could have been for a male student. Finding it difficult to land a job, Ruth began teaching at Rutgers.
Her expertise was in equal rights for women and then equal rights for everyone, as those cases came before her. Ginsburg made her way up the legal ladder, then President Clinton nominated her to the highest court of the land, and she got the job. Ginsburg was on the Court with Sandra Day O’Connor, and the women devised a white color to wear over their black judicial robes, as the men wore neck ties. Ginsburg’s close friend became Antonin Scalia, and they had opera in common, so much so, that in their down time, they actually had speaking roles in operas.
What we learn from this documentary is how difficult it was for a woman to practice law, how you had to have nerves of steel to present your case, learn a way to present your information and hold the court’s attention. Working 20-hour days on a case while raising two children, so instead of the nickname “Notorious,” Ruth’s should have been “Super Woman.”
This material is presented with a touch of humor and Ginsburg pokes a bit of fun at herself. We even get to see her at her workouts in a gym, where this sprite of a woman really charges into an exercise program. Her late husband, Marty, was a jovial person with a sense of humor that lit up the room when he spoke. Their 56 years of marriage is a tribute to companionship.
No matter what side of the fence you are on, politically, this documentary gives a view into the workings of the Supreme Court and what it takes to make it to the top. Perseverance and a sense of humor.
Copyright 2018 Marie Asner