I am fascinated by the Supreme Court. I have read a number of books about the history of the court and some biographies of individual justices that have been on the court. So I picked this up when it was on sale last week.
The Notorious RBG is a brief biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is currently the oldest member of the Supreme Court (83) and was the second woman appointed to the court.
This book started as a tumblr account. Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a barely 5 ft and tiny Jewish grandmother being compared to the Notorious BIG, a large African American rapper who was shot and killed when he was 24 (in 1997), is sufficiently incongruent to generate attention. RBG, especially in the past few years, has stepped up her dissents and become more vocal as the court has shifted to the right.
RBG is on the left of the court, but as a lower court jurist, she was not known for her radical stances. In fact the biggest concern when she was nominated was that she was not left enough. She served for a number of years with Robert Bork in the US Appeals Court and she voted with him 85% of the time when they were on the same cases. She also had a very public friendship with Antonin Scalia one of the most conservative justices on the court prior to his death this past spring.
What was most fascinating to me, and I think was probably under covered by the biography, was RBG’s role in women’s rights cases, especially with employment discrimination or governmental policy discrimination. While she was a law professor, she also headed up the ACLU Women’s Rights Project from its founding in 1972.
RBG was part of the standard feminist camp that believed that discrimination against women harmed not only women, but men as well. Several of her most prominent cases she argued before the Supreme Court were defending men to establish case law that would impact women, for instance, Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld where she defended a man denied widower survivor benefits under Social Security. Overall she argued six cases before the Supreme Courts and won five of them. The Women Rights Projects oversaw hundreds of additional lower court cases under her leadership.
RBG was nominated to the US Court of Appeals by Jimmy Carter in April 1980 and then to the Supreme Court in 1993 by Bill Clinton. She is the 33rd longest serving Supreme Court Justice (out of 112). She will jump up to 27th and pass Sandra Day O’Connor in about a year.
The Notorious RBG is a light, brief biography. But it is entertaining and I was glad to have read it. It does make me want to read some more about RBG and other Supreme Court justices.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Erin Camron and Shana Knizhnik Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition, Audible.com Audiobook