Notorious RBG: The life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the work by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik details the life and cultural impact Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had during her tenure on the Supreme Court. Carmon and Knizhnik paint a portrait of a modest woman who was nonetheless a great trailblazer for gender equality and has become the leading liberal of the Supreme Court.
Ginsburg was raised to believe that she could achieve anything that she wanted and this belief was bolstered by and encouraged by her husband Marty throughout their entire marriage, often to the puzzlement of others who couldn’t comprehend that a man would alter his job for his wife. Ginsburg was brilliant yet her gender kept her from many jobs that men of lesser pedigree were awarded. The authors paint a picture of a woman who, when faced with challenges, refused to give in and instead decided to persevere.
Her nomination to the Supreme Court almost didn’t happen, as President Clinton nearly nominated others (including Justice Breyer) before Ginsburg landed on his radar and received confirmation. For much of her career, Ginsburg was not the liberal lion she has become more recently; instead she struck a more moderate course. It is however, since the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the nominations of Justice Samuel Alito and chief Justice John Roberts that the court took a drastic shift to the right. Consequently, Ginsburg’s dissents have become more fiery and impassioned, leading to her meteoric rise in popular culture; much to the surprise of many that know the Justice.
The book leaves readers with a glimpse into the wonderful world of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, offering her life story, some of her memorable briefs and dissents and into the heart and mind of the justice herself.
Ginsburg fought for gender equality in her work with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project and later was able to see her arguments become Court precedent from the bench. Her perseverance, determination and stamina are to be admired. She continues to fight for what she believes in, even in her advanced age. She has pulled all-nighters to write and has consistently resisted the calls to retire while President Obama was in office.
If anything, this work its to rest at least in my mind, the desire to see Ginsburg’s seat filled before the 2016 election. I had always been ton between my affection for her and love of her dissents and the fear that she would not be given the chance to retire while a Democrat was in the White House and would thus be replace by a more conservative judge. Carmon and Knizhnik capture the fierce determination of Ginsburg and her physical stamina in such a way that these fears and doubts are dispelled. Ginsburg has every right to serve as long as she wants so long as she is able. And she has shown no signs of slowing down. We liberals should be happy about that.