Do you ever just know the moment you start paying attention to someone or something that you are a huge fan, without much information to explain why? That’s how I feel about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I am in my late 30s so I was around during her confirmation to the Supreme Court, but I was also a teenager who couldn’t have cared less about politics. To be honest all I remember about the Clinton administration is he was charming, cheated on Hillz, everyone hated him if they had an R by their name, NAFTA, and we had a lot of money then. So, it wasn’t until recently that I really started to pay attention to the Supreme Court – once its cases started to REALLY affect people I love and/or further disintegrate integrity in politics (I’m looking at you Citizens United). Once I did I kept reading stories about the way RBG would ask questions, her dissents, etc., and I was fascinated. Then my book club came along and nominated Notorious RBG for our June read and I learned so much more.
Notorious RBG all came about because of a funny TUMBLR and an interview, and I’m so glad it did. The writers interviewed her family, close friends, former clerks, etc., to get a real picture of the quiet, tiny old lady from Brooklyn who was only the second woman ever nominated to the highest court in the land. Over the chapters you learn a little about Ruth’s early life and how she excelled at her studies. Other chapters are devoted to her loving marriage with her husband Marty, her physical fitness routines and wardrobe choices, her relationships to her fellow court members, etc. What I found most complex to devour but the most worthwhile was the chapters on her dissent. It’s rare that the dissenting opinion is read out loud in court, but lately RBG has become the voice of dissent in a conservative-leaning court. She openly disdains the rulings on issues she holds close to heart, and can be biting in her criticism of the majority. All these things only enforced how I viewed RBG and I think would also make even the staunchest conservative admire her. Speaking of that – they do go into a little detail about her oddly close friendship with the now-late Antonin Scalia. She called him “Noni” I believe, and they bonded over a shared love of opera and shopping. I didn’t cry when the man died (except for the fact that our current Congress refused to address the issue of his replacement until the next election), but it’s interesting to note that he apparently had a warm enough side that someone I admire thought highly of him.
If one had to pinpoint negative things about this book, I would say that there is a chapter that is entirely in a timeline. I find timelines difficult to read and didn’t enjoy that format. Some of the notes on her opinions were still hard for me to digest, having no familiarity with the law. The end chapter on how to be like RBG felt a little unnecessary and just there to meet a page requirement. I also kept getting Notorious B.I.G. songs stuck in my head due to the naming convention for the chapters. Not a bad thing necessarily, but they can be ear worms.
If you’re interested in one of the women keeping it real on the SC, and needing reassurance that she’s a total badass that hopefully will outlive a Trump presidency, I think this book is for you.