By Kristen Cochrane //
It could be argued that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was always hot. Of course, by “hot” I mean that she was killing it as a law student, as a mother, as a lawyer, and as an Ivy League law professor during a time when this was really difficult to do as a woman. But Ruth is only getting hotter, given that she’s an integral part in all the positive change we’ve seen made by the Supreme Court recently—most notably, legalizing same-sex marriage, the right to health care subsidies for eligible Americans under Obamacare, and deciding that Texas doesn’t have to allow Confederate Flag license plates,. Yay!
Basically, right now is an incredibly exciting time to think and talk about politics, and that’s in part because of Ruth. Below are 10 facts about why Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been killing it over the past few decades:
1) She officiates gay weddings
As a liberal and staunch defender of the right to get married no matter what your gender is, it’s only natural that Ginsburg would officiate same-sex weddings. In 2013, she presided over the wedding of Michael Kaiser, the president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, and economist John Roberts. So cute. Then, this year, she officiated the wedding of Shakespeare Theatre Company artistic director Michael Kahn and New York architect Charles Mitchem. Sooo cute.
2) She’s like “nah” to the death penalty
Along with fellow liberal Justice Stephen Breyer, Ginsburg brought up the idea that the death penalty might not be constitutional. Breyer and Ginsburg cited reasons like the execution of innocent people, racial bias in death penalty cases, that defendants facing the death penalty are clumsily defended by lawyers, and that defendants are inconsistently punished with the death penalty based on their geographical location. The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “cruel and unusual punishment” (which includes suffering, pain, and humiliation) cannot be inflicted on people. For Justices like Breyer and Ginsburg, capital punishment during our time is unusual because of its declining frequency. It is also arguably causing defendants to suffer, like in the 2014 botched execution of Clayton Lockett. In 2013, Ginsburg said that if it was up to her, that there would be no death penalty.
3) She’s embodies style and beauty at 82
Not to go full-blown In Touch magazine, but even into her 80s and with one of the most grueling jobs, Ginsburg still makes time to go to the Supreme Court gym twice weekly with her personal trainer. And then does stretching exercises at home after work. Ugh, I can’t even walk up the stairs without getting winded.
4) She’s a bad bitch who’s spent decades fighting for gender equality
In the exceptionally important decade of 1970-1980, where civil rights movements were all the rage, Ginsburg was the preeminent Supreme Court civil litigator (read: lawyer for non-criminal matters) for gender equality. During this time, she was teaching at Columbia Law School, wrote academic articles, and co-authored the first casebook on sex discrimination and the law. She would know about such discrimination first-hand—in 1960, she was turned down for a clerkship by Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter because she was a woman. This was in spite of an excellent recommendation from the dean of Harvard Law School. Ew.
5) She shamelessly YOLOs
Okay, I’m going full-blown In Touch magazine—but just to relay the fact that Ginsburg is not boring, or one of those public figures who must separate the personal and the political in a patriarchal, capitalist framework that relegates all personal banalities to the “private” sphere. For example, Ginsburg had wine with her dinner at President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, and kinda dozed off for a bit. In her reserved yet rebellious way, she shrugged it off, saying that Justice Anthony Kennedy provided some “very fine California wine.” Idol.
6) She’s the Notorious R.B.G.
Among politically savvy young people, Ginsburg is known as the Notorious R.B.G. This moniker has been prolifically printed on t-shirts, reproduced in memes, and even inspired an NYU law student to create a very famous Tumblr honoring her work. When she was asked what she thought about it all, she humbly answered that it was “amusing” and “quite well-done,” but that she and the Notorious B.I.G. had both grown up in Brooklyn.
7) She makes it work, no matter what
As a mother with a one-year old daughter Jane, she became a student at Harvard Law School, and was one of nine women in a class that had approximately 500 students. Then, following the birth of her daughter, her husband, who was also in law school, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Rather than give up, Ginsburg typed up both her own notes and her husband’s notes, typed up his papers as he dictated them, and took care of their daughter. It is noted that she did all of this while simultaneously getting published in the Harvard Law Review, a notoriously selective scholarly journal published by Harvard Law School.
8) A movie is being made about her life
… and the title is On the Basis of Sex. How fucking cool is that? Also, Natalie Portman is playing her. Chic.
9) She has integrity, and is modest about it
She has integrity. Unlike the ultra-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia who has become increasingly comical over the years, Ginsburg maintains the decorum she has always been known for. She has insisted that dissenting justices should remain in one voice—in other words, that the justices disagreeing with a particular case stay on track and avoid ideological fragmentation (think of modern feminism or left-wing politics and its problematic fragmentation, which then hinders the ultimate shared goal). The most illustrative part about her integrity though? That she doesn’t consider herself influential.
Kristen Cochrane is a writer and academic in Ontario, Canada, who’s researching some very interesting things, like queer Latin American cinema, and the fetishization of the female tennis body. Read her recent essay for Slutever, “Why the Slut Always Dies” HERE :)