Notorious Justice

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik (Dey Street Books), 240 pages, release date 27 October, 2015

Notorious RBG is every bit as original as the woman herself. This isn’t your typical biography of a Supreme Court Justice. Instead, it’s a life story at once serious and rollicking, accompanied by all sorts of other treasures—including excerpts from Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s rulings, social media memes featuring the Justice, even part of an opera about Ginsburg and conservative Justice Samuel Alito.

Ginsburg’s story is a reminder of how difficult a career in law was for a woman only a generation or two ago. Through tenacity, brilliance, and the help of her husband Martin, Ginsburg breaks through glass ceilings, even as more conservative (perhaps bigoted is really the word to use here) members of the profession try to exclude her.

Given her status as the nation’s second female Supreme Court Justice, Ginsburg is well deserving of the enthusiasm she’s generated in popular culture—a popularity seems a matter of whimsy, as well as deep respect. The book opens with scenes from Ginsburg’s life when she increasingly found herself on the minority in Court rulings and began to issue her own dissents, giving voice to her frustration with the tenor and quality of a number of majority decisions. This Ginsburg is fierce, articulate, and intellectually rigorous.

Notorious RBG is not a comprehensive biography of Ginsburg, but it is a delightful introduction to her story, one that both honors and celebrates her accomplishments.

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