Thursday, February 9, 2017

Notorious RBG: Sometimes it helps to be a little deaf

Objective biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg this is not. But then again, the cover is her with a crown on so. The assumption of objectivity probably should be thrown out the window.

That's certainly not to say that this was a bad biography, by any means. It just means that there's a lot about how kick ass RBG is. Which really, even an objective biography is going to address that, because she kicks a lot of ass. It's well researched, with chapters that include RBG's rulings and dissents, with annotations to help explain the legalese.

Notorious R.B.G. by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik covers Justice Ginsburg from her early schooldays through her time at law school, getting married and having a family, and of course being a lawyer and eventually the notorious justice she is today.

There were a few things that stood out

She has been fighting for equal rights since forever
Laws which disable women from full participation in the political, business and economic arenas are often characterized as "protective" and beneficial...The pedestal upon which women have been placed has all too often, upon closer inspection, been revealed as a cage.
Obviously there are women's rights. She was one of the very few women at Harvard Law and becomes the second woman to teach at Rutgers Law, where she was paid WAY LESS than men because, as was explained to her, her husband made good money so she really didn't need to be paid more. She later becomes the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law. She co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the ACLU. She was only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. There's also a dissenting voice in the court's ruling to gut pieces of the Voting Rights Act. She was the first Supreme Court justice to officiate a same sex wedding.

She's crazy tough
"If you really want to study the law, you will find a way. You will do it." RBG says, "I've approached everything since then that way. Do I want this or not? And if I do, then I'll do it."
She went to law school while also taking care of young children. And dealing with husband Marty's cancer diagnosis. She keeps a schedule that exhausts me just to read. She was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and didn't miss a day on the bench. She's in her eighties and does 20 push ups a day. I seriously just hope she's immortal cos really, we need her right now

She is intimidatingly smart
A conversation with her is a special pleasure because there are no words that are not preceded by thoughts.
I mean, it was obvious she was smart, right? And really, I don't have other examples here. It's really just a combination of the first two. That and she demands so much from the people she works with and the people that work for her. Sure, this means expecting a bunch of emails from her at 3 in the morning (cos oh yeah, she doesn't sleep either), but so be it.

The book was entertaining and informative, especially for someone (me) who knows very little about RBG beyond a few of her rulings and of Kate McKinnon's impersonation of her on SNL.

Gif rating
Title quote from location 218

Carmon, Irin and Shana Knizhnik. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Dey Street Books, 2015. Kindle