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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sadly passed away on September 18 after a long and brutal battle with pancreatic cancer. The United States was devastated, heartbroken, and terrified by the 87-year-old women’s rights pioneer’s death. The remarkable judge’s work throughout her decades-long career changed life for women throughout the US. Simple things that we may take for granted that Ruth Bader Ginsburg secured for American women: getting a credit card in our own name, and our own credit history without a man co-signing; leasing a property without a man; access to our own medical records and consenting to our own medical treatment without a husband involved.
Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton, told granddaughter Clara Spera before her passing that her “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Whether or not her final wish will be honored remains to be seen. As we mourn this incredible loss, take some time to celebrate this remarkable woman and learn more about her by devouring these books and movies:
1. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
In 2015, journalist Irin Carmon and lawyer Shana Knizhnik transformed their beloved Tumblr page into a massively successful book, launching Ginsburg into pop culture stardom. Notorious RBG is a collection of rare archival photos, documents, and illustrations that explain Ginsburg’s legacy in a delightfully fun way. Carmon and Knizhnik even received edits from RBG herself — included in the final copy, of course.
Carmon interviewed Ginsburg that same year, and asked her what she’d like to be remembered for after her eventual death. RBG’s answer: “Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something, as my colleague David Souter would say, outside myself. ‘Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid.” $17, amazon.com
2. On The Basis Of Sex
The 2018 biopic stars Felicity Jones as a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg, beginning with her college years at Harvard Law School. The film dissects her marriage with supportive husband Marty Ginsburg (Armie Hammer), her struggles with sexism, and her earliest victories in the court. After graduating at the top of her class at Harvard Law and helping her husband, ill with cancer, ace his classes, no law firm will hire her — because she’s a woman. As we know now, she makes them eat their words. The film, directed by Mimi Leder and written by Ginsburg’s nephew Daniel Stiepleman, also includes a poignant cameo from the real-life RBG that will delight eagle-eyed viewers. $15, amazon.com
3. My Own Words
If you want to hear from the woman herself, this is an essential read. Justice Ginsburg gathered a collection of essays and speeches dating back as far as eighth grade, creating a fascinating timeline of her evolution into the feminist crusader we knew in the last chapter of her life. Throughout the book, she recalls what she learned from her fellow SCOTUS justices, including the late Antonin Scalia: attack ideas, not people, because “some very good people have some very bad ideas.” $13, amazon.com
This Oscar-nominated 2018 documentary, directed and produced by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, chronicles the life and career of Ginsburg before, and after she becomes the second female Supreme Court Justice (following Sandra Day O’Conner) in United States history. Beginning with her upbringing in Brooklyn, the documentary delves into her college years at Cornell University and Harvard Law, her marriage, and her successful court cases arguing against gender discrimination.
The film includes interviews with admirers, like feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who discusses her impact on women’s rights. It also examines her rise as a pop culture icon, beginning with the publication of Notorious RBG in 2015. RBG was nominated for two Oscars: Best Documentary Feature and Best Original Song (“I’ll Fight”). $12, amazon.com
5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life
Written by Jane Sherron de Hart, Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life is a thorough biography of Justice Ginsburg, clocking in at over 700 pages. De Hart spent 15 years gathering research about Ginsburg and conducting interviews with her husband, children, friends, colleagues, and RBG herself. The biography, according to de Hart, “explores the central experiences that crucially shaped Ginsburg’s passion for justice, her advocacy for gender equality, her meticulous jurisprudence: her desire to make We the People more united and our union more perfect. At the heart of her story and abiding beliefs — her Jewish background.” $26, amazon.com
6. Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law
The vast majority of us never got the chance to just sit around with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and chat, but thankfully, Jeffrey Rosen has given us a glimpse into what it was like. Rosen, the President of the National Constitution Center, compiled hours of conversations with RBG into a comprehensive book that showcases her wit and wisdom. In the 2019 book, he gets RBG’s opinions on the #MeToo movement, her thoughts on the future of Roe v. Wade, and more. It’s an essential look into RBG as the person, and not just the justice. $15, amazon.com