I just watched this CNN documentary about the life of judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is really a historical crash course about the other side of the fight for civil rights: the legal aspect of the women’s lib movement in which RBG played an essential role. The film is composed of extracts of hearing and court proceedings as well as interviews with RBG, friends, family and some legal or political experts. We first learn how she became a lawyer in 1959 (Harvard and then Columbia) but couldn’t find employment because she was a woman. She taught law at Rutgers. Within the ACLU she co-founded in 1972 the Women’s Rights Project which oversaw hundreds of gender discrimination cases, RBG personally arguing six of them before the Supreme Court (winning five). It is incredible how such a small and frail woman could be so dedicated and determined to fight gender discrimination in any way necessary in order to slowly build up precedents and find justice.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter nominated her as judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C.. In 1993, Bill Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court where she played an iconic role. With the retirement of Justice O’Connor in 2006, she became the only woman on the court, until the nomination of Justice Sotomayor in 2009. First considered a moderate, she shifted toward the Left to preserve the balance as the court became more conservative. She is known for her dissenting opinion. She could be the last line of defence against the civil rights roll back by the Trump administration. Strangely, the appeal of her work and personality — through an Internet meme named Notorious R.B.G., which was comparing her to rapper Notorious B.I.G. — has given her great pop culture fame.
This is a great documentary that is fun to watch, but also very informative. I’ve learned a lot about American history. It is also a nice introduction to another movie about RBG’s life, this time a fictionalized account of her early days, titled On the Basis of Sex and which was just released this Christmas. RBG was well received as it earned a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.6 on IMDb. Therefore, it is highly recommended. I recorded it when it aired on CNN in September, but it is now available on Dvd (from Amazon or your local library) and can also be streamed on iTunes or Amazon Prime.
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