Sep 28, 2018
by Diane McCurdy, Film and Book Reviews
As the Supreme Court moves inexorably to the right there are those who have offered to donate their organs to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Both reviled by some and raised to icon status by others, Ruth soldiers on in her own slow, carefully thought out manner. At 85 she is the oldest member of the court and says she will continue there as long as her mental faculties remain sharp as of now they are acute.
Documentarians Julie Cohen and Betsy West have given us a mostly adulatory look at the life and times of Ms. Ginsburg.
She was born in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrant parents. Her family was not particularly religious, but they did belong to a synagogue where Ruth absorbed the tenets of that faith. She attended Cornell University where she met her husband Martin and they married when she graduated. He developed testicular cancer at an early age and Ruth cared for him and their children and still made the Harvard Law Review. Martin was as light-hearted and jocular as Ruth was serious and dedicated. He became a highly successful and respectful lawyer in his own right and was never threatened by his wife’s achievements.
Ruth’s academic credentials were always sterling, but she still struggled with her career. At Harvard a professor asked, “How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?” Nominated to the Appellate Court by Jimmy Carter and the Supreme Court by Bill Clinton, Ruth has been a lifelong supporter of women’s rights and gender equality. Her biography is listed chronologically here but is presented more artfully in the film juxtaposing present and past to enhance certain points which makes facts a lot more interesting.
Ironically Ruth has become a pop culture personality. Even the title of her story is a play on the name of the deceased rapper, The Notorious BIG. She is a tiny dynamo and we see her in the gym doing push-ups and lifting weights wearing a t-shirt with the meme “Super Diva”. She enjoys showing her collection of lacy collars that spice up the dour robes that judges wear. She has even had a praying mantis named for her and is constantly satirized on Saturday Night Live.
We see her in the audience at an opera. She is rapt. Her love of opera is what precipitated her unlikely friendship with fellow judge Antonin Scalia who was her political polar opposite. She is always mentioned on list of the “most powerful” or the “most influential” women.
Ruth has survived colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and has had a stent put in her coronary artery. Because of her liberal, progressive leanings, there are those of us who pray she’ll live forever.
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