Friday, November 13, 2015
Rapping with Justice Ginsburg
At 82, Ruth Bader Ginsburg who has found new celebrity as the Notorious RBG, a moniker she has adopted as the most liberal judge on the Supreme Court. Shana Knizhnik is the one who came up with the blog but didn't feel confident enough to write the book on her own, so she solicited the help of MSNBC journalist Irin Carmon.
Justice Ginsburg has stood out over the years for her sharp dissents of conservative majority opinions on everything from Citizens United to Shelby County v. Holder, which further eroded voting rights in America. It is the Shelby dissent that inspired Knizhnik, a law student at the time. You might say that Ginsburg is the "Bernie Sanders" of liberal law students.
I have great respect for Ginsburg but wonder how much longer she can hold up. Of course, the Senate would fight any Supreme Court nominee Obama would put up in her place, especially with Chief Justice Roberts no longer a reliable conservative vote on the bench. I would prefer it be his choice to replace her and not a potential Republican president down the line. However, the Notorious RBG appears to have no intention of stepping down soon.
The book is an "artisanal hagiography," which is an interesting way of saying a certain amount of artistic license was taken in presenting Judge Ginsburg. The authors focus on many of idiosyncrasies like her passion for lace collars, her early love for Nancy Drew and her morning workouts, which keep her a sprite looking octogenarian. The authors also probe into the sexual discrimination the young judge faced not only at Harvard but from renown Justice Felix Frankfurter. Through out, she kept her wits about herself even when Justice Blackmun graded her a C+ for her first case before the Surpreme Court.
All well and good. I suppose the book achieves its goals, as the aim here is to further reinforce her position as a "supersignifier of liberal idealism." It is necessary today, as for the most part liberalism and feminism get a bad rap in the press and we need a badass judge to remind us that women's rights are not something to be toyed with, and neither are voting rights.
Like anyone, the Judge has her conservative side, like decrying Roe v. Wade for being too dictatorial, stating that methodical steps rather than extreme measures should have been taken. Interesting that since then many states have methodically reinstated abortion laws that are every bit as severe as they were before Roe v. Wade. Maybe she thought the sweeping 1973 decision resulted in this backlash, but then one could argue that Brown v. Board of Education was just as dictatorial, and few would decry it today.
Anyway, it looks like a fun way to get to know our eldest Supreme Court Justice a little better.