RBG: My Review

Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg_official_SCOTUS_portrait
By Steve Petteway, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States (Ruth Bader Ginsburg – The Oyez Project) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
My Review:  Don’t Miss It!

That is, if you are interested in learning about one the most influential people of our times.  If you are interested in learning about the strange bond of friendship and respect between her and her anti-her, the equally brilliant Justice Antonin Scalia. You’ll smile when you see her appearing as a character in an opera, with a few appropriate lines to say. You will be reminded about what true love is as you watch the story of her relationship with her husband, Marty.  You will chuckle as you see how she became the icon, the “Notorious RBG”.  But you’ll choke up, as I did, watching how she has improved the lives of so many.

Don’t miss RBG, the story of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

24719839559_18d7f9f8ee_o
RGB and Scalia (center) and Scalia (center) pose with members of the cast, after performing in Ariadne auf Naxos at the Washington Opera on Jan. 8, 1994.

This tiny, quiet, no-small-talk woman is a giant in United States history. Until I watched this movie I had no idea how influential she has been. She became interested in the law while watching the McCarthy hearings and realizing the key role lawyers can play in our democracy. She argued, and won, some of the ground-breaking cases about gender-equality before the U.S. Supreme Court. She became, continues to be, and her legacy is to forever be a force on the Court itself.

Put your politics aside, if they dissuade you, and watch this fascinating story.  You will learn a little history and a lot about why lawyers and the legal system, which get such an undeserved bad rap – in my opinion, are essential to the workings of the democracy and the freedom we hold dear.

I observed this process first-hand as an undergraduate in college.

It was a time of protest and unrest in our country.

On Tuesday, November 2, 1971, I was packed into a 1200-seat arena at Washburn University with around 1500 others in order to listen to William Kunstler, who had been the defense attorney for the Chicago Seven, members of the Black Panthers, the Weather Underground, and other radical groups. At the time he was perhaps the most well-known attorney in the United States and was extremely controversial.  Over a lifetime, he served on the board of the ACLU, was one of the founders for the Center for Constitutional rights, and defended a range of people including Lenny Bruce, Jack Ruby, Martin Luther King, and Angela Davis.1

Washburn University was a school of around 3,000 located in Topeka, Kansas with a respected law school, and I had gone there with the intention of becoming a lawyer.

The excitement was crackling. I was just 19, naïve, and all I really remember from walking out of that session was how much I resonated with the idea of freedom of speech and the importance of being able to protest in our society.  Growing up in Kansas, I had received my draft number – 301 I think – just over a year before, and I remember the “woodsie” many in our senior class in Olathe High School headed over to at Olathe Lake to celebrate and commiserate the fate which the luck of a lottery pick had handed us.  At 301 I would not be drafted but others in our class, with low numbers, would assuredly be called to serve their country during the Vietnam War.  Kunstler was a lawyer for his times, an important figure during an historic moment in United States’ history.  We are protected in this country by the law of the land, and lawyers – the subject of so many jokes – are the professionals who help see that it does.

I never forgot that day and have been in awe of these protectors of the rule of the constitution and the rights of all people; these who are miracle workers in their own realm.

Clarence Darrow was a lawyer for his times. Thurgood Marshall was a lawyer for his times.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a lawyer for our times and, like these others, for all time.

She, the unbombastic, un-self-promoting RBG,  as much as anyone changed how women are treated in our country. Watch the movie to see how she did it.

“As the documentary relates, in the 1970s Ginsburg played a leading role as a legal warrior for women’s rights. She was to gender equality what her predecessor on the supreme court bench, Thurgood Marshall, was to race equality in the 1960s.”

Not one to take the limelight, nonetheless, she brightened the future for millions.

Don’t miss it.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan Investiture Ceremony

The four women who have served on the Supreme Court of the United States. Steve Petteway, photographer for the Supreme Court of the United States. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Notes

1Sources for this section include a Lawrence Daily World-Journal article (11-3-71), p. 6, and Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Kunstler, downloaded 1-8-15).

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