MY OWN WORDS by Ruth Bader Ginsburg


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From the second woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court, a collection of writings ranging from the slight to the serious.

Now 83, women’s rights icon Ginsburg nears the close of her distinguished career as a law professor, appellate advocate, judge, and justice, arguably having done more to move our law in the direction of gender equality than any living person. Now, as two Georgetown Law professors, Hartnett and Williams (emerita) prepare her official biography, they have collected Ginsburg’s speeches, lectures, articles, and opinions, some on offer here. They preface most of this material with explanatory, wholly complimentary notes and begin with a chapter of juvenilia, demonstrating Ginsburg’s early interest in human rights and in preserving individual liberties. Passages devoted to “the lighter side” of life at the Supreme Court include, for example, Ginsburg’s musings on lawyers depicted in opera, not least her own “starring” role in Scalia/Ginsburg. There follows a section on “waypavers” and “pathmarkers,” Ginsburg’s tributes to, among others, Belva Lockwood, the first woman admitted to the Supreme Court Bar, Gloria Steinem, “the face of feminism,” and Sandra Day O’Connor, the court’s first woman justice. Especially good are the author’s observations on the court’s “Jewish seat” and her charming lecture on four notable Supreme Court wives. These, and many other agreeable selections, are characterized as “remarks,” delivered and often recycled for various audiences. The collection also contains numerous bench announcements, summaries of some of Ginsburg’s most consequential opinions and dissents, and a few revealing essays that offer keys to her jurisprudence: for example, her perspective on the role of dissents, the value of consulting foreign law, and the wisdom of “measured motions” by the judiciary, wherein she mildly criticizes Roe v. Wade for provoking a backlash and halting “a political process that was moving in a reform direction.”

Only the most dedicated Ginsburg fans, and there are many, will devour everything here, but most readers will find items of interest from this icon of women’s rights.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-5011-4524-7
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2016


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