Monday, March 7, 2016

Notorious RBG

The title: Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The authors: Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhik
Publication: Dey Street Books, 2015
Got it from: The library

I had this book checked out and waiting for me on my coffee table when Antonin Scalia died - perfect timing, I thought, to read the biography of his ideological opposite.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become extremely popular in recent years for her spot-on dissents and no-nonsense takedowns of conservative views.  Although she's only recently become a rock star, RBG has been fighting the social justice fight for decades.  As this slight but entertaining biography chronicles, she pushed herself through law school at a time when there were almost no women lawyers, all while raising a family and helping her husband through law school himself. 

Although at the time she was not as famous as fellow feminists like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan*, RBG chose to fight for women's rights in the courts during the second-wave feminism era.  She brought several discriminatory cases to the Supreme Court and refused to be intimidated by the all-male justices.  Appointed to the SC by Bill Clinton in the 1990s, she has helped judged some of the most important cases in U.S. history, and famously dissented on decisions like Bush v. Gore, Lilly Ledbetter and Hobby Lobby.  Despite some seriously scathing (and awesome) dissents, the book continually points out that she has never come in with guns blazing.  Instead, Ginsburg has worked to chip away at discrimination one law at a time, in cases she knows have a chance of winning. 

Her approach may dismay the young social justice warriors (among who I consider myself, partially) but her dismantle-from-the-inside technique is remarkably effective, if exhausting.  I have a ton of admiration for women like her, who've been putting up with BS for years but still manage to maintain their sass and class well into old age.  Oh, and did I mention she had a swoon-worthy romance with her husband for over fifty years, and that her daily workouts put my own to shame?  RBG is an inspiration to women everyone everywhere. 

*Review of The Feminine Mystique coming soon

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