We all think we know at least a little bit about U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Trust me when I tell you --- we don't know ENOUGH! This 84-year-old unlikely pop culture icon, affectionately known by her fans as "Notorious RBG", has accomplished SO much in her lifetime, and these are the things we should know about this diminutive heroine.
Directors/producers Betsy West and Julie Cohen, along with their extremely talented team of mostly women, felt that a documentary detailing the most important components of Ginsburg's life was necessary "right now"! The phenomenon of her rise to rock star status amongst the millennials was extraordinary --- a feat that very few octogenarians enjoy.
But the facts are that Ginsburg deserves every bit of the adulation --- and then some. Her work towards the empowerment of women through the law has been life-changing for all of us. She has spent her career championing the rights of all, but especially women, when it comes to equality under the law.
One cannot overstate the sheer magnitude of her accomplishments in achieving landmark decisions which she argued before the Supreme Court. She won five out of the six cases she presented in what is considered one of the most influential and lengthy law careers on record --- and certainly by a woman.
But it's not just her work which defines her. She was a devoted wife to Martin D. Ginsburg, also an American legal scholar, who died in 2010. They had an amazing marriage and she received terrific support from her husband. Her early years out of law school, where she graduated at the top of her class, were marred by the inability to get a job because she was a woman. It's so hard for us to imagine now --- and yet women still face multitudes of discrimination today.
Ginsburg is also a mother to two children, Jane and James, who discuss their very famous mother in "RBG". Her granddaughter, Clara Spera, a recent law school grad, also spends time on screen talking about and relating to her well-known and highly-regarded bubbe (Yiddish for grandmother).
"RBG" is an astonishing, informative and highly entertaining documentary. Ginsburg, herself, is very soft-spoken and reserved. It was her husband, Martin, who provided the levity in the family. But watching Ginsburg watch Kate McKinnon doing her impression of RBG on "Saturday Night Live" is HILARIOUS! Ginsburg doesn't indulge in TV because she works most nights --- all night --- so when they played the clip of McKinnon for her --- well, you simply must laugh along with her. RBG gets a very big kick out of "Notorious RBG"!
Opinion: Strong See It Now!
It is extremely fitting that in Ruth Bader Ginsburg's 25th year as a Supreme Court justice --- and only the second female in U.S. history at the time of her confirmation --- that "RBG", a superb documentary about her life, is being released. (Note: we currently have two other females among the nine jurors on the Court: Sonia Sotomayer and Elena Kagan).
I am struck by the thought that it is so important that this tribute was made while Ginsburg is alive. Her impact on behalf of women's rights is so vital in American history, it would have been a travesty not to have her amazing life --- along with her musings and her humor --- as a permanent record on film. Although she has become a pop icon with younger generations, all Americans should have the opportunity to know of her genius, as well as her passion for justice and the rule of law.
Kudos to filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen for a well-crafted and edited 97 minute documentary, complete with photographs of Ginsburg's younger days, especially when she was a beautiful co-ed at Cornell University. It was there that Ruth Bader met her future husband of 53 years, Martin D. Ginsburg, a fellow legal scholar specializing in tax law.
If you're thinking a documentary about an 84-year-old Supreme Court justice will not be very entertaining, please think again. "RBG" is rife with delightfully memorable moments, from clips of SNL's Kate McKinnon doing her best Ruth Bader Ginsburg impression to Ginsburg's confirmation hearing in 1993. There we see a beaming Senator Joe Biden (D-Delaware), and even an approving Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), listening intently to her responses to their questions.
The film revisits so many meaningful segments of her life, none more critical than the six times she argued landmark cases in front of the Supreme Court. She won five of them.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!