On the Basis of Sex (2018) Movie Script

Illegitimum non carborundum
Domine salvum fac
Illegitimum non carborundum
Domine salvum fac
Gaudeamus igitur
Veritas non sequitur?
Illegitimum non carborundum
Ipso facto
Ten thousand men of Harvard
Want victory today
For they know
that o'er old Eli
Fair Harvard holds sway
So then we'll conquer
old Eli's men
And when the game ends
We'll sing again
Ten thousand men of Harvard
Gained victory today
Ten thousand men of Harvard
Want victory
Anyone here?
My name is Erwin Griswold.
I am the dean of this place.
Welcome to Harvard Law School.
Take a moment
to look around you.
In this room,
there are Rhodes
and Fulbright Scholars,
Phi Beta Kappa members,
student body presidents,
and a Harvard
football team captain.
- Together...
you will become lawyers.
This is a privilege you share.
It is also a responsibility
you accept.
what does it mean
to be a Harvard man?
A Harvard man is
intelligent, of course,
but he is also tenacious.
He is a leader devoted
to the rule of law.
He is mindful of his country,
loyal to tradition,
and he is respectful
and protective
of our institutions.
- MARTIN: "The net operating loss deductions
"by the year shall be computed
as of Subsection A
of this section,
applied to such tax review..."
Which one makes me look
more like a Harvard man?
I'm thrilled to report
that you look nothing
like a Harvard man.
It's the dean's dinner, Marty.
You know how I am
at these things.
I-I need to make
a good impression.
And you will, Kiki,
but you've got it wrong.
It's not the dress. It's you.
You haven't touched
your tuna casserole.
Come here, sweetie. Come.
- There we go.
I put onions in.
They help, right?
I don't like either of these.
Okay, where were we?
Thank you.
HARRIET: Ladies and gentlemen,
please join us
in the dining room
as dinner is served.
And, professors,
please escort the ladies in.
- MAN: After you. Please.
May I?
He remembers everything.
He said, "Professor,
have you corrected our papers?"
And I said, "Correcting them
will take a lifetime.
I'm merely grading them."
MAN 2:
Oh, wait a minute.
Esteemed colleagues, ladies.
This is only the sixth year
women have had the privilege
to earn a Harvard law degree.
This little soiree
is our way of saying welcome.
My wife Harriet and I
are very glad
all nine of you have joined us.
Let us go around the table,
and each of you ladies report
who you are, where you're from,
and why you're occupying
a place at Harvard
that could have gone to a man.
why don't you
get us started, dear?
I'm Hennie Callaghan.
Father's a lawyer
back in Minneapolis.
He used to give me
drafts of contracts
to use for drawing paper.
But at some point,
I got more interested
in reading them
- than drawing on them.
In a few years, it's gonna be
Callaghan and Callaghan.
That was fine.
Emily Hicks.
Hello. Connecticut.
When I finished Mount Holyoke,
my mother wanted me
to get married.
But I didn't want to do that,
and I didn't want
to be a teacher
- or a nurse, so when I...
That's not a very good reason.
- Oh.
- Watch it.
Uh, I'm...
Ruth Ginsburg from Brooklyn.
And why are you here,
Miss Ginsburg?
Uh, M-Mrs. Ginsburg, actually.
My husband Marty is
in the second-year class.
I'm at Harvard
to learn more about his work,
so I can be a more patient
and understanding wife.
Come to dinner.
The beans will be boiled,
the chicken will be stewed,
and you will be grilled.
We came to Harvard
to be lawyers. Why else?
It's truly an asinine question.
He's never gonna take me
No, that's not true.
You're the smartest
person here,
and you're gonna be
the most prepared.
So just stand up
and say what you know.
At a place like this,
that's all that matters.
In my experience,
even small mistakes
are glaring when you stick out.
Well, then you're very lucky.
Because you...
are very... short.
Oh, yeah?
why don't you come down here
and say that to my face.
- Mrs. Ginsburg.
I am Professor Brown.
This is
Introduction to Contracts.
Hawkins versus McGee.
State the case, please...
Mr. Pruitt.
Uh, good morning.
I'm Donald Pruitt.
I'm really honored
to be here...
Hawkins v. McGee.
Uh, yeah, Hawkins versus McGee,
it-it's a fascinating,
uh, breach of contract case
where, um...
oh, uh, Charles Hawkins hurt
his hand, and McGee had...
Can someone help him, please?
Mr. Fitzpatrick.
It was Charles's son
who hurt his hand.
- Electrocution burn.
- And at what point
does the case turn,
Mr. Fitzpatrick?
McGee promised to fix the hand
by performing a skin graft,
but McGee wasn't very familiar
with the procedure,
and the results
weren't quite what he planned.
Question already, Mrs....
- Ginsburg.
- Correction, Professor Brown.
McGee did not simply promise
to fix George Hawkins' hand.
He promised, quote,
"a 100% good hand."
- That's the same thing.
- BROWN: Is it?
What say you, Mrs. Ginsburg?
It is not.
Words matter.
McGee grafted skin
from Hawkins' chest.
Not only did this fail
to fix the scarring,
he had chest hair growing
on his palm.
Proving that a hand with a burn
is worth two with a bush.
The court denied
Hawkins' damages.
Hawkins did get damages...
the court said
- he could have...
- If I may finish.
Hawkins was denied damages
for pain and suffering.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court
ruled he was entitled
to damages
only based on the contract
being fulfilled.
So if Dr. McGee had set
realistic expectations
instead of making
grand promises,
Hawkins' award likely
would have been less.
Was that an answer,
Mrs. Ginsburg, or a filibuster?
- Mm.
- Slippin' and a-slidin', peepin' and a-hidin'...
- Movie.
- Movie.
- Four words.
- Four words.
- Second word.
- Second word.
- Seven?
- Seven.
- Uh-oh.
- Fourth word. - Fourth word.
- (LAUGHTER) - Oh! Monkey!
- Oh! Gorilla! Monkey business.
- Uh, ape!
- Monkey. Monkey.
Ape. Uh...
- Ooh.
- Monkey on my back.
Second word, seven. Seven...
Seven... Seven Brides
for Seven Brothers?
What does that have to do
with monkeys?
- And... - Seven...
- Oh, oh, The Seven Year Itch!
- Time!
- RUTH: Yes!
Ruthless Ruthy strikes again.
Okay, next round's
riding on you.
- Don't worry, he's very good.
- All right.
Thank God, because she actually
broke up with someone
for being bad at charades.
- You didn't, really?
- Well, it was a manifestation
of his being an idiot.
- See?
- Don't worry, I'm comfortable
- being smarter than you.
- Oh, thank you.
- WOMAN: All right, everybody ready?
- WOMAN 2: Oh.
- Uh, song. - A song.
- Um...
- MAN: Uh, Buddy Holly? Uh...
- MAN 2: Uh, Bill Haley?
By Elvis.
Uh, three words.
- First word.
- Uh, first word.
- Uh, table. Um...
- A glass?
- Um...
- A book!
- Um, uh...
- Reading!
Uh, blue!
- Ah! "Blueberry Hill"?
- No, that's Fats Domino.
Uh, third word,
third word. Floor.
- Carpet.
- Dancing?
- WOMAN: Nice moves.
- Oh. Ow. Ow. Hold on.
- Oh, no sound effects.
- Oh. Oh, "Bl-Blue Suede Shoes."
- Come on, Marty, you're a lightweight.
- RUTH: Marty?
- Marty.
- Help! Help! - Is he all right?
- Someone get some help!
The doctor's ready
to see you now.
Excuse me.
Just a moment, please.
- Excuse me, I just need...
- Just a moment.
I need to make a call.
Yes. Uh, can we have
the results today?
E-Excuse me.
Doctor, um,
you examined my husband.
I'm wondering when you think
he'll be able to leave.
I need to call the sitter. I...
What's the patient's name?
- Martin Ginsburg.
- Right.
Yeah, he's not
going home today.
- Excuse me?
- We have more tests to run.
Wha... What kind of tests?
- Various kinds. He's gonna be with us a while.
- What tests?
- I need to see him.
- Just go home, get some rest.
We'll know more in a few days.
Now, if you'll excuse me.
How is he?
Call anytime, okay?
- Hi.
- Hi.
At least you got a break
from my cooking.
- Hey, Doc.
- Dr. Leadbetter.
It's as we feared.
Marty, you're young,
and we caught it early.
We've pioneered
a new treatment here.
It entails numerous surgeries,
each followed
by a course of radiation.
There's a chance you can go on
to a healthy, happy life,
as if none of this
had happened.
Wha... What kind of a chance?
Dr. Leadbetter, we'd rather
know what we're facing.
The survival rate
for testicular cancer
has been about five percent.
Thanks for the honesty.
I think.
I'll let you two talk.
- We're never giving up.
You keep working.
Keep studying.
Jane will have her father.
You will be a lawyer.
I am spending my life with you,
Martin Ginsburg.
Judicial consistency.
The doctrine of stare decisis
comes from English common law,
which also provides
the first examples
of circumstances
where precedents
- may be overturned.
- (WHISPERS): Excuse me.
- Judges are bound...
- Thank you.
Excuse me.
May I help you?
Um, I'm, uh,
Martin Ginsburg's wife.
I'll be a...
attending his classes for him.
In addition to your own?
Professor Freund.
Judges are bound by precedence,
but they cannot ignore
cultural change.
A court ought not be affected
by the weather of the day,
but will be
by the climate of the era.
Wait, wait, wait.
Say that last part again.
"A court ought not be affected
by the weather of the day,
but will be
by the climate of the era."
And you're sure he said that?
Of course.
Of course.
The law is never finished.
It is a work in progress...
and ever will be.
Brown v. the Board
of Education...
parentheses, 1954,
was the most revolutionary...
Supreme Court case...
in the last century.
Representing Oliver Brown,
- et al....
Thurgood Marshall...
- I'm not listening.
- ...educated the court...
Come on, Jane.
That's it.
Come on, sweetie.
One, two, three,
- whoo!
One, two, three,
- whoo!
Should we give Daddy a rest?
One day, this little angel's
gonna slam the door in our face
- and tell us we're ruining her life.
I should have never
taken the job.
It's a great firm,
and New York is the center
of the legal universe.
You earned it.
You earned it.
- I barely survived it.
I just don't want to be away
from you and Jane.
You won't be.
I won't allow it.
I'll convince him.
Say, "Good luck, Mommy."
- Good luck, Mommy.
- (WHISPERS): See you later.
You want a Harvard law degree,
though you plan to finish
your coursework at Columbia?
You would do well,
Mrs. Ginsburg,
to remember how fortunate
you are to be here.
Dean Griswold, between
the first and third year
of law school,
which is the more substantive,
the more critical?
- The first, of course.
- Yet when someone
transfers in
as a second-year student,
having taken those more
important classes elsewhere,
he's allowed a degree.
- That's irrelevant.
- I've been here two years.
I'm first in my class.
There is no reason your husband
cannot provide for you
while you and the child
remain in Cambridge.
Last year,
John Sumner was allowed
to finish his coursework
at Baltimore.
- Three years ago, Roy Paxton...
- Very different cases.
- How are they different?
- Mrs. Ginsburg,
you have no compelling need
to transfer.
Marty could relapse.
He beat the odds,
but the doctors say
it could happen at any time.
Dean Griswold...
this is my family.
we each have
our responsibilities,
and mine is to protect
the distinction
of a Harvard law degree.
I can't force you to stay.
But I won't reward you
for leaving, either.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Graduating top of your class.
Law Review at Harvard...
and Columbia.
I didn't even know
that was possible.
Thank you, Mr. Greene.
I've worked hard.
Well, you want
some white-shoe firm.
Big money cases,
complex legal maneuvers...
No, I think Bibler and Greene
is the perfect fit.
- You handled the Mercer bankruptcy last year.
- Come on.
How many have you been to?
They all turned you down,
right? How many?
Maybe ten?
A woman, a mother,
and a Jew to boot.
I'm surprised that many
let you through the door.
One sent me to interview
for the secretarial pool.
- Another told me I'd be
too busy at bake sales
to be effective.
One partner closes his clients
in the locker room at his club,
so he said
I'd be out of the loop.
Last week, I was told women are
too emotional to be lawyers.
Then that same afternoon,
that a... a woman graduating
top of her class
must be a real ballbuster
and wouldn't make
a good colleague.
I was asked when
I'd have my next baby.
And whether I keep Shabbat.
One interviewer told me
I had a sterling rsum,
but they hired a woman
last year,
and what in the world
would they want with two of us?
You must be livid.
Well, my mother told me
not to give way to emotions.
You're angry. Good.
Use it.
I have to say, Mrs. Ginsburg,
I'm very impressed.
Mr. Greene...
I want to be a lawyer.
I want to represent clients
before the court
in pursuit of justice.
You can see I-I worked hard
through school, I...
I did everything I was
supposed to, and I excelled.
I swear it,
I'll do the same for you.
The fact is that,
you know, we're a-a...
close-knit firm,
almost like family,
and, uh...
...the wives...
they get jealous.
The prince would marry her
whose foot would fit
the little slipper.
- Hey! Kik!
- First, he tried it on the...
- Where is everybody?
- ...princess.
Oh, hi.
Hello, sweet pea.
Come here.
How was your day? Hmm?
I missed you.
- Did you have a nice day?
Did you get the job?
You got the job.
That's wonderful.
Oh! So they're gonna give you
a corner office,
or are you still gonna have
to jump through some hoops?
It's not at Bibler and Greene.
I wasn't what they
were looking for.
That's okay.
I told you one of those
other firms would come back.
Which one was it?
Clyde Ferguson left
his professorship at Rutgers.
- Kiki...
- They haven't found
another black man
to replace him,
so someone thought a woman
would be the next best thing.
- Good news.
- You can't quit.
There are more firms out there.
This is the biggest city
in the most litigious country
in the history of the planet.
- You can still...
- Marty, I got a job.
Just open the champagne.
Okay. Then let's celebrate.
Marriage of Figaro.
You know what I think?
I think this is good.
I think it's better.
- You won't be beholden to any firm,
you won't have a partner
breathing down your neck,
and also, a professor
is free to represent
any client she chooses.
As long as they
don't mind a lawyer
- who's never actually practiced law.
- Well...
all I have to say is,
hooray for Mommy.
Hooray for Mommy.
Hooray for Mommy.
Hell no, we won't go!
Hell no, we won't go!
Hell no, we won't go...
- Time has come today
Young hearts
can go that way
- No!
- Can't put it off another day...
- MAN: Vietnam!
And now they're telling us
there's gonna be
no prosecution!
- No! - No!
- Are we gonna stand for that?
Are we gonna die in Vietnam?
- No!
- No!
Hell no, we won't go!
Hell no, we won't go!
Hell no, we won't go!
- Hell no, we won't go! Hell no!
- Time has come today
- Time!
- Time has come today
I am Professor Ginsburg.
This is Sex Discrimination
and the Law.
Some of my colleagues
will tell you
that sex discrimination
doesn't exist,
that I may as well be teaching
the legal rights
of gnomes and fairies.
- We'll see if they're right.
Hoyt versus Florida.
State the facts,
please, Miss...
Gwendolyn Hoyt was a housewife,
and her husband was
this asshole.
- Can you recall the specifics?
He cheated on her.
He choked her.
He'd rip off her clothes
and threaten to kill her.
So in statutory terms,
he was a "real asshole."
On the night in question,
Clarence told his wife
that he'd met another woman
and he was leaving her.
How did Hoyt respond,
Miss... Burton?
She smashed in his skull
with a baseball bat,
then called an ambulance
while he was dying.
A jury convicted Hoyt
of second-degree murder.
And that's where
our story begins.
A great civil rights lawyer
took up Hoyt's appeal.
On what grounds,
Miss... Roemer?
The Florida's juries violated
the U.S. Constitution,
'cause there were
only men on them.
Kenyon said that
if there were women on it,
Hoyt may have been convicted
of a lesser crime,
- like manslaughter.
- That law makes sense, though.
Uh, women can't take care
of their kids
if they're
on some sequestered jury.
- Oh, is that so?
- What? - Excuse me?
Men are the mammoth hunters.
- You're never getting laid again.
- What about women who don't have children?
- Yeah.
- Or they're out of the house?
- Let the man stay home
- and take care of his children.
Hey, don't take it out on me.
I'm not holding
my fiance back.
- She's got two jobs.
- Which...
she can be fired from
just for marrying you.
The law allows it.
There are laws that say
women can't work overtime.
And that a... a woman's
social security benefits,
unlike her husband's,
don't provide for her family
after death.
- What? That's bullshit!
- Excuse me? - Crazy.
Ten years ago, Dorothy Kenyon
asked a question:
If the law differentiates
on the basis of sex,
then how will women and men
ever become equals?
And the Supreme Court answered:
They won't.
Hoyt lost her appeal.
The decision was unanimous.
on the basis of sex is legal.
Here, stir that in.
Mmm, Daddy,
that's not how you do it.
- Oh, really?
- If you put the herbs in too early,
they lose all their punch.
Well, they're not supposed
to pummel each other, Jane.
They're supposed to complement
each other, and that is why
- it's called "marrying the flavors."
- JAMES: We're home!
- Hi!
- Daddy!
- How was your day?
- Good.
- Did you have a good day at school?
- Uh-huh.
What'd you learn?
Anything exciting?
- Not really.
- No? - Hi.
- Hi.
- Hi.
- Jane.
- Hey, Mom.
How's this year's class?
Oh, these kids
are so passionate.
To them, it's about more
than precedents and dissents.
- They want to forge a movement.
- That's great.
Mmm. This is delicious.
Don't act so surprised.
I got a call
from your school today.
Apparently, I misdated a note
excusing you from classes
- last week.
- It's not a big deal.
Oh, well, problem solved,
then, right?
You skipped school.
It's... it's the first week.
Is... is this what this year's
gonna be like?
- And you lied to the school.
- I never lied.
No, forging a note
is lying, Jane.
You're smart enough
to know that.
Well, apparently I'm not, Mom.
Don't forget we have
that party tonight. Not you.
- Jane.
- MARTIN: You're staying right here with me.
- I apologize, okay?
- I want to know where you were.
Denise and I went to a rally
to hear Gloria Steinem speak.
Gloria Steinem. She's a writer.
She just started
her own magazine.
She testified in the Senate
Yeah, I know
who Gloria Steinem is.
What if you got hurt
or arrested?
Mom, it's a rally, not a riot.
Jane, these things
can get out of hand.
Okay, well, I'm 15 years old,
and you don't need
- to control every minute of my life.
- Yes, I do.
That is my job. And your job
is to go to school and learn.
Well, Gloria says we need
to unlearn the status quo.
Oh, so you're
on a first-name basis now?
You know what, Mom?
If you want to sit around
with your students and talk
- about how shitty it is to be a girl...
- Hey. Language.
But don't pretend
it's a movement, okay?
It's not a movement
if everyone's just sitting.
- That's a support group.
- MARTIN: Jane, that's enough.
We should get going.
Yeah, go make yourself pretty
for Daddy's party.
You know what?
Go to your room.
No, no, it's well known.
Tax is the only genuinely
funny area of the law.
INTERN: I think most of us
just want careers that have
- a little more, uh, impact.
- Hmm.
You know, young people
in Sweden these days
- aren't getting married?
- Really?
MARTIN: It's true.
They're getting engaged.
- INTERN: Hmm.
- They're still living together.
They're still having kids,
raising a family.
But they're not getting
married. You know why?
They can have sex without it.
- It's because of taxes.
- Mm-hmm. - Ah.
That's true. After the war,
Sweden passed a law that said
married couples will now file
joint income tax returns.
unlike the United States,
they weren't given
any of the benefits from it.
So married Swedes
were finding themselves
in the uncomfortable position
of now being
in a higher tax bracket.
- (CHUCKLES): Oh, really?
- So they got divorced.
MARTIN: Of course, they
were still living together.
So the Swedish government
then passes a new law
that says, all right, married
couples who get divorced
but continue to live together,
for tax purposes,
will be considered
still married.
So they did
what anyone would do.
They add a second entrance
to their home
with a nice wall that goes
right down the middle,
with doors for...
(CLICKS TONGUE) easy access.
- "All right, fine,"
says the Swedish government,
"new law."
Once married,
now divorced couples living
in a two-income household
that is subdivided would,
again, for tax purposes,
be considered living together,
and therefore...
Therefore still married.
- MARTIN: Now he's got it.
And this went on for decades.
All the while,
a whole generation of Swedes
simply skirted the issue
by never getting married
in the first place.
Thank you.
Speaking of, have you all met
my lovely wife, Ruth?
The moral of this story
is that in their attempt
to raise revenue,
the Swedish government
ruined all those young men's
best hope at happiness.
- Exactly. Because...
how a government taxes
its citizens
is a direct declaration
of a country's values.
So tell me, what could have
more impact than that?
You'd be wise to listen, boys.
I-I swear to Christ,
Martin Ginsburg will be signing
all of our checks someday.
You're a smart girl, Ruthy.
You married a star.
Tom Maller's barely evolved.
He started walking upright
last week.
- You always do that.
- What?
You act like...
like it doesn't matter.
- But all the little brush-offs,
the dismissive pats
on the head,
- it-it matters, Marty.
- Why?
You know what you're doing
is important, so who cares?
Okay, fine. Next time my boss
gives me a clumsy compliment,
I'll challenge him to a duel.
Will that make you happy?
I wouldn't want to hurt
your stellar reputation.
Just tell me what you want.
Nothing. I want nothing.
I-I want you to go to work
- and wow your bosses and clients...
- Oh, great.
...and be the youngest partner
in the history of the firm.
That's not fair. That's not
fair, and you know it.
Then I want you
to walk me home, Marty,
so I can sit in my corner
and write a lesson plan
to inspire the next generation
of students...
- No one's put you in the corner.
- ...to go forth
- and fight for equality.
- I don't understand why
you're acting like that's
such a bad thing.
You're out there training
the next generation of lawyers
to change the world.
'Cause that's
what I wanted to do!
Kiki. Kiki.
Page 21.
I don't read tax court cases.
Read this one.
The IRS denied a petitioner
a tax deduction
to hire a nurse to take care
of an invalid mother.
- Sounds like a real page-turner.
- Hmm.
- Ask me why.
- Marty, I have a lecture to write.
Hmm. Okay.
It's because
the petitioner is a man.
Section 214 of the tax code
assumes a caregiver
has to be a woman.
This is sex-based
against a man.
Poor guy.
If a federal court
ruled that this law
is unconstitutional,
then it could become
the precedent others refer to
and build on.
Men and women both. It-it...
It could topple
the whole damn system
of discrimination.
- What?
I'm just thrilled
at your newfound enthusiasm
for tax law.
Oh, Marty.
- We need to take this case.
MAN: Of course he says
he's against bombing Cambodia.
I want to know, where's
the bill to defund it?
It's derogatory, it's taunting,
but it's speech.
Hi. Mel Wulf is expecting me.
He wants to get his hands
on Nixon, or he hopes
- the Viet Cong do?
- Well, why? What's the difference?
Five years in prison.
I'm an acorn
short and round
Lying on the dusty ground
Everybody steps on me
That is why I'm cracked,
you see
I'm a nut
I'm a nut, I'm a nut
Come on.
I'm a nut
I'm a nut, I'm a nut
I'm a nut, I'm a nut,
I'm a nut
- Oh
I'm a nut,
but that's no sin
'Cause at Camp Che-Na-Wah
I fit right in.
Ladies and gentlemen,
three-time Camp Che-Na-Wah
All-Around Camper,
Ruth "Kiki" Bader.
Oh, and for all you
who think this job is hard,
I judged the 13-and-unders with
a color war trophy on the line.
- Back to work.
Hey, Kiki. What do you say?
- Hi, Mel.
Sorry about that.
You said you had a case.
This is not a case...
this is the opening salvo
on a 50-year war for
a new class of civil rights.
- Yes, exactly.
- Huh. I can't do this.
- This is beyond my mandate.
- Wha...
American Civil Liberties Union?
Women's rights
are civil rights.
I'm still getting flack for
defending draft card burners.
And the right to protest
actually exists.
After you.
Phyllis, can I get a...?
How's Marty?
He's fine.
Still protecting the rich
against the predations
of the poor?
If we're gonna appeal,
the court needs to agree
there's a constitutional
handle here.
How did you even convince this
guy to let you represent him?
I-I'll take care of that.
- He doesn't know?
- Alone...
- Are you kidding me?
- Alone, the judges
- may not give Marty and I the benefit of the doubt.
- Whoa.
But with your name
alongside ours on the brief...
Mel, you must see the...
the opportunity
this case represents.
You think the judges
are gonna be sympathetic
just 'cause they all
have prostates?
Men and women all eat at the
same lunch counters, they drink
at the same water fountains,
they go to the same schools...
- Women can't attend Dartmouth.
- Men can't go to Smith.
Women police officers can't
patrol New York City streets.
We have to get...
We have to get credit cards
- in our husbands' names.
You're not a minority.
You're 51% of the population!
And it's been tried.
Muller, Goesaert.
Uh... what's the other one?
The one with the woman
with the baseball bat.
- Gwendolyn Hoyt.
- Gwendolyn Hoyt. Exactly.
Yeah, and morally,
they were right.
Yet they lost.
morality does not win the day.
Look around you.
Dorothy Kenyon
could not get women equality
by arguing a case
with sex, murder
and prison time on the line.
You and Marty think
you're gonna do it
with this guy and his taxes?
I-I... I need a number.
Denver, Colorado.
MARTIN: Come on,
you're gonna miss your flight.
Now, you have to get James from
school while I'm in Denver.
Mom, I told you,
Denise and I are starting our
- consciousness-raising group.
- MARTIN: Wait. Please wait.
- Take James with you.
Will you be all right?
- Yeah.
- We'll survive somehow.
Bye. Bye.
Go kick ass.
Meter's running.
Bye, Mom.
- Bye.
- JAMES: Bye, Mom.
Thank you.
- Mr. Moritz.
- Mrs. Ginsburg.
Um, you're early.
Uh, I-I can come back
in ten minutes if you prefer.
No, you might as...
might as well come in now
and have your say.
Shoes off, please.
Just come on in.
Excuse me.
- Are you done, Mom?
- No. Not yet.
- You want your...
- I'm done, thanks.
- You want your crossword?
- Yeah.
- Okay.
- Please.
- Here you go.
- Uh-huh.
- This is Mrs. Ginsburg.
She's the New York lawyer
I told you about.
Mrs. Moritz, hello.
I thought she would be bigger.
- Uh, y-you can have a seat.
Uh, here.
Here you go.
Do you want your magnifier?
- Yeah, please. Yeah.
- Okay.
There you go. All right.
- You want a drink?
- Uh-huh.
I-I see you were a drum major.
I was a twirler.
That was a thousand years ago.
Mr. Moritz, about your case...
I don't have a case.
Four lawyers told me so.
And that judge...
he basically called me
a tax cheat.
Are you?
I never cheated at anything
in my life.
"Tasmanian egg-layer."
Eight letters.
Not now, Mom.
Tell me in your own words,
why did you hire a nurse?
If you've never cared
for an ailing parent...
I have.
Then you know.
Between the dressing
and the bathing and the toilet,
it's not a task for one person,
especially if you have
a day job.
If it wasn't for Cleeta, uh,
I'd have to put Mom in a home.
So you deducted Cleeta's salary
on your taxes.
The judge said
the tax code was clear.
Caretaker's deduction
was available to all women,
but only to men who had wives
who were incapacitated or dead
- or were divorced.
- And you've never been married?
- No.
- The men who wrote that law couldn't even fathom
that a bachelor,
choosing to take care
of a parent at home,
might exist.
"Tasmanian egg-layer,"
- second letter: "L."
- Mom,
- I'll help you in a little bit.
- How about "platypus"?
Ah! Ah.
I'm a salesman, Mrs. Ginsburg,
and I know when I'm being sold.
With due respect,
you have $296 at issue.
I'm not here for the money.
We'd represent your appeal
pro bono if you'll let us.
So... the judge was wrong?
Mr. Moritz...
the law is wrong.
Thank you. I was hungry.
If it's not for the money...
why are you here?
The 14th Amendment to
the United States Constitution
says all people must be treated
equally under the law.
Yet there are...
I don't know how many laws
like the caregiver deduction
that say, in effect,
women stay home,
men go to work,
and that it should stay
that way forever.
I want to convince
the federal courts
that those laws
are unconstitutional.
How do you do that?
One case at a time.
Starting with yours.
So I'm a guinea pig?
No, sir.
You're the man marching
out ahead of the band,
leading the way.
Just like that drum major
you used to be.
- I've invested a lot of my own reputation
to building up your career,
and now you're on track
to be the youngest partner
in the history of the firm.
And you want to risk that
for some cockamamy case?
Tom, I'm contractually
obligated to ask
to take outside work,
and I'm asking, but...
Okay, for God sakes, you're
traipsing into this for what?
So your wife can feel
like a real lawyer?
She is a real lawyer, Tom.
You want to support Ruth,
tell her the truth.
- Which is?
- The case is unwinnable.
Congress can write
whatever taxes it wants.
That's not open
to constitutional attack.
Or maybe you just say that
because no one's been able
to successfully do it before.
Oh, Marty.
Fine. Try, but...
when you lose
and you embarrass our firm,
just be ready for your career
to come crashing back to earth.
Okay, noted, noted.
And thank you, Tom.
- Thank you. Thank you.
- Yeah, yeah, yeah.
No! Murder
can never be condoned,
- least of all by a lawyer.
- It's called justice.
Yeah, what's just to you
may not be just to me
- or to someone else.
- You know what I'm talking about.
- MARTIN: Hello, family unit.
- And would it kill you to admit
that maybe I actually did
something right?
- This is an "A" paper.
- Yeah, of course it is.
You're a beautiful writer.
It just needs more work.
Please tell me
you aren't going 15 rounds
over To Kill a Mockingbird.
Daddy, can you please tell Mom
that Atticus Finch
can be a role model.
He covers up
Bob Ewell's murder.
He's a terrible lawyer.
- Why? 'Cause you say so?
- No, not me.
Canon 1 of the American Bar
Association's Model Code
- of Responsibility.
- What are you talking about?!
It's called legal ethics.
Well, you'd do
exactly the same thing
if you actually had a heart.
I don't know where
she gets her stubbornness.
Can't imagine.
So, how was your day?
"History discloses that woman
"has always been dependent
upon man.
"Like children,
she needs special care.
This justifies a difference
in legislation..."
- Muller v. Oregon, the law of the land.
- Wow.
Or Bradwell v. Illinois.
"The destiny of woman
is the benign offices
"of wife and mother.
This is the law
of the Creator."
I'm writing this brief
and citing the same cases
with the exact same precedents
as-as everyone before us.
Marty, if this is
what we go in with,
we're gonna lose.
Wait, wait, wait, wait.
Wait, wait, wait.
I got it. I got it.
At least she's not listening
to The Monkees.
- I'm busy.
Why do we never get
an answer
When we're knocking
at the door?
Because the truth
is hard to swal...
Come here.
Come here.
I'm fine.
I can be as tough as she is.
She's a bully.
And she needs everyone
to know how smart she is.
Do you want Mom
to stop being smart?
I want her to stop rubbing it
in everyone's face
all the time.
Grandma Celia died
when Mom was about your age.
But up until her dying breath,
they would read together,
debate ideas together...
and she taught your mom
to question everything.
She's not trying
to bully you, Jane.
She just doesn't want you
to feel small.
She wants to give you
what her mom taught her.
That's how she...
shows her heart.
Is she okay?
She'll be fine.
This is stupid.
You're the one who said
I'm supposed to be in school.
If you're gonna write
about great American lawyers,
you may as well meet one.
You ladies look lost.
Well, spit it out.
Miss Kenyon,
w-we're here to see you.
I tried to make
an appointment...
Well, here I am.
I don't have all day.
It's about Gwendolyn Hoyt.
In that case,
I have no interest in talking
to either one of you.
I'm-I'm arguing a case.
Sex discrimination violates
the Equal Protection principle.
Equal Protection was coined
to grant equality to the Negro,
a task at which
it has dismally failed.
What makes you think women
would fare any better?
Please, if we
could just talk for...
You want to know
how I blew it... is that it?
What I'd do differently?
Why? You think you
can change the country?
You should look
to her generation.
They're taking to the streets,
demanding change,
like we did when we fought
for the vote.
Our mistake
was thinking we'd won.
We started asking, "please,"
as if civil rights were sweets
to be handed out by judges.
Protests are important,
but changing the culture
means nothing
if the law doesn't change.
As a lawyer,
you must believe that.
Let me guess.
You're a professor, aren't you?
Ton of knowledge and no smarts.
- Mom, we should go.
- You want advice? Here it is.
Tell your client she won't find
equality in a courtroom.
My client's name
is Charles Moritz.
That's cute.
He hired a nurse to take care
of his mother, but...
he was denied a caregiver
deduction on his taxes.
He's never been married.
You found a bachelor taking
care of his mother at home.
The judges will be
repulsed by him.
Feeling anything is a start.
What did you say your name was?
Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
sorry, Professor Ginsburg.
Maybe someday.
But the country isn't ready.
Change minds first,
then change the law.
If you'll excuse me,
the mayor's decided
to rename the neighborhood.
So now a developer is kicking
30 families out of the building
he abandoned ten years ago.
SoHo. Who ever heard
of such a ridiculous thing?
JANE: I know she's
your personal hero and all,
- but she's kind of a bitch.
- RUTH: No, she's formidable.
Dorothy Kenyon has been
fighting for women's rights
and civil rights and
labor rights her entire career.
She didn't always win,
but she made damn sure
she was taken seriously.
She didn't help you.
- What are you gonna do now?
It's the right cause,
it's the right client, but...
women have been losing the same
argument for over a century.
just because you lost a hundred
years before you started
is no reason not to try to win.
Jane, that was very wise.
You know who said it first?
Atticus Finch.
Hey, looking good, ladies!
- Just ignore them.
Hey, we'll keep you warm
if you're getting wet.
Oh, yeah? Real nice!
Do you kiss your mother
with that mouth, asshole?
- Oh, whoa.
- Whoa!
Mom, you can't let boys
talk to you like that.
Mom, come on.
You're getting soaked.
Look at you, Jane.
You're a liberated,
fearless young woman.
20 years ago, you couldn't
have been who you are today.
Dorothy Kenyon's wrong... the...
the times have already changed.
- DRIVER: You coming or what?
Yeah, yeah, we're coming.
It's what Professor Freund
said at Harvard.
"A court ought not be affected
by the weather of the day,
but will be
by the climate of the era."
Okay, so we're not going back
and refighting old cases?
No, we're arguing
that the precedents
- should no longer apply.
- Right. But, Ruth,
Freund was talking about Brown
v. the Board of Education.
That's a
once-in-a-generation case.
Yeah, and we're
the next generation.
RUTH: "Equal Protection applies
"to all persons.
A class in which men and women
share full membership."
"A divorced man counts the same
- as a widower."
- You're saying that this guy
could have married his nurse,
got divorced the next day,
and then he'd be eligible
for the tax deduction?
That's totally nuts.
All right, our client is a man.
We cannot lose sight of that,
because men are also harmed
by this stereotype.
That little boys are told
they can't be nurses,
they can't be teachers,
they can't be secretaries.
Or cook dinner
for their families.
We're counting on you, too.
...wholly irrational
between single sons
and daughters.
Any tax preparer may have
an invalid parent...
MARTIN: Any tax preparer
may have an ailing parent,
- even an unmarried man.
- ...unalterable
biological traits
of birth over which the...
MARTIN: The principles
of American democracy
should apply
to men and women equally.
RUTH: ...arbitrary
and equal treatment
described by the Constitution.
MARTIN: The law shouldn't
reward or penalize taxpayers
for their sex.
Section 214 draws a line
solely on the basis of sex.
Professor Ginsburg,
I finished typing the brief.
You're a saint, Millicent.
May I make an observation?
It's just...
when I was typing it up,
jumping out
all over the brief was...
- Sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex, sex.
- Oh. (LAUGHS)
- Oh.
- It reeks of hormones
and back seats, and...
you know how men are.
Maybe you should try
a less distracting word.
You realize that means...
That's no problem.
I'm happy to type it again.
MEL: Guessing doesn't do us
any good... I need to know
how many people were
turned away from the polls.
Yeah, the affiliate
still hasn't sent the list.
Well, then call Brian Tanner.
Remind him that we're
on the same team.
Tell him if he doesn't start
acting like it, I'm gonna fly
to Wisconsin and personally
rip his throat out myself.
Didn't your mother ever
teach you to clean your room?
Miss Kenyon.
Time for your annual
dusting-off already?
In 1776, Abigail Adams
wrote her husband a letter.
"As you write this
new constitution," she said,
"remember the ladies."
You know what that bastard
went ahead and did?
Well, I can guess.
"Idaho Statesman."
You need a hobby.
These poor people.
Sally and Cecil Reed, divorced.
Their son committed suicide.
Both parents want
to administer his estate.
In Idaho, the law says,
in this situation,
males must be preferred
to females.
'Cause men are better at math.
And the Idaho Supreme Court
just said
that is perfectly legal.
I've got student protestors
in jail in California.
I got schools in Mississippi
that still refuse
to desegregate. I...
You're a sissy.
The Board threatened to can you
because you stood up
for draft dodgers,
and you've had your tail
between your legs ever since.
That-that-that is not...
We don't have the resources
to take this on.
I've seen you stand up
to the might of government
with sling and stone
for what you know to be right.
And, kid, I loved you for it.
They're not
gonna fire you, Mel.
The Board's a bunch
of tired old fools.
They don't have the nerve
to do it.
(SIGHS) I should know.
I'm one of 'em.
John Adams forgot the ladies.
And it's time the ACLU
got back in the fight.
- Okay.
- Good.
Now, here's where you start.
It's a case headed
to the Tenth Circuit.
It's a professor
out of Rutgers.
Smart cookie.
But nowhere does
the Constitution say
the federal government
must treat people equally.
What did the court say
about that, Mrs. Parker?
That the Due Process Clause
implies that equal protection
applies to the federal
government as well.
Can you cite the case?
Bolling v. Sharpe.
347 U.S. 497.
Uh, decided in conjunction
with Brown v. Board
of Education, 1954.
Bolling desegregated
all Washington D.C.'s
public schools.
Chief Justice Warren,
writing for the court.
How about it, teach?
Do I get an "A"?
Well played,
sending that newspaper
and the brief to Kenyon.
I thought
she might have advice.
Cut the shit.
Don't ever do that to me again.
What do you think of the brief?
It's a compelling argument.
Brilliantly reasoned.
More women than ever
are working now. And why not?
We have preschools,
we have washing machines,
cheap contraceptives...
Yeah, times have changed.
There's a glaring
problem, though.
In the unlikely event that
you actually win this thing,
what's the remedy?
The court takes away
the caregiver deduction
for everybody,
including working mothers.
- Then you've done more harm than good.
- No.
Do you remember
Justice Harlan's opinion
last June
in Welsh v. United States?
He said laws could be extended
when doing so would be closer
to the legislature's intent
than overturning would be.
Yeah, we're adding
one more section to the brief.
Urging the court
to extend the law
to include Charlie
as well as everyone else.
All right.
The ACLU is prepared to put
their name on your brief.
- We appreciate your support.
- (CHUCKLES): Stop.
I still say I'd rather be
a woman in this country
than a black man or a...
or a religious minority.
Now, let's talk about
you taking on Reed v. Reed.
- Oh. Stop. No.
- Well...
all men in Idaho
are better at math?
Ruth, I gave you one case.
That's all you get.
The Moritz argument works just
as well for a female client.
And Reed's
a state supreme court case,
which means
the U.S. Supreme Court
- must hear the appeal.
- I-I told you,
I don't want
another 50-year battle.
Call Sally Reed's lawyer, Mel.
If I were you, I would worry
about my own case.
And I expect to see
your remedy arguments
before they go
to the Tenth Circuit.
And I want to be there
when you practice
your oral arguments.
We're doing a moot court.
It's not negotiable.
Soon as we get the
government's response brief.
BOZARTH: Where did these people
go to law school?
You can't make
a constitutional challenge
to the tax laws, can you?
And who's ever heard
of gender discrimination?
It's a stretch.
These folks are running at hell
with a bucket of water.
Case law is filled
with challenges
that could not be made...
till they were.
I'm putting Murphy
on writing our response brief.
- With due respect, Mr. Brown...
- Not personal, Bozarth.
But if we're not careful,
this appeal could cast a...
cloud of unconstitutionality
over every federal law
that differentiates
between men and women.
I need someone
more seasoned on this.
Could you get me
the solicitor general, please?
I pulled the file.
I deserve the chance.
Murphy's a weak sister.
I know how to win
this case, sir.
Better than Murphy.
Better than anyone.
You need me on this appeal.
This is Brown.
I need to see him.
Tell me.
Gender equality
as a civil right?
When everyone's aggrieved
and everyone's a victim.
It's what the ACLU does:
divide the country
into smaller and smaller
- Ginsburg. Cancer, right?
- Mm-hmm.
- And the wife, very demanding.
- But smart.
Ten years.
Ten years I fought to enroll
women at Harvard Law.
The faculty, the university,
my wife warned me against it.
Now I'm solicitor general,
it comes back to haunt me.
Erwin, we could settle.
Martin Ginsburg was
one of my best students,
a practical young man...
we can call him, tell him
we'll give the man his money
and go our separate ways.
No. No.
We settle now,
it's open season.
Let's put this idea
of gender discrimination to bed
once and for all.
They handed us a winnable case.
Then we'll win it.
You think he's up to it?
Oh, Mr. Bozarth
is a fine litigator.
Tell him your idea.
We list the laws.
What laws?
All of them.
Every federal law that treats
men and women differently.
We show the court exactly
what kind of can of worms
these folks are trying to open.
But, son,
the last anyone checked,
the U.S. Code
was 20,000 pages long.
Who's going to read it? You?
I can get it done, sir.
I just need an introduction.
To whom?
The Secretary of Defense.
BROWN: These computers will
find what we're looking for?
Yes, sir.
In just a few days.
Without any human beings
actually reading the laws.
What a horrifying age.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg?
Delivery from
the Department of Justice.
JANE: Can someone pass me
Get this. There's a law
that we're not allowed
to fly military cargo planes.
It says here
that we're not allowed
- to work in mines.
- Why would you want to?
Well, that's not the point.
We should be allowed.
You really think you
can change all those laws?
- MARTY (CALLS): Kiki?
- That's the plan.
Curtain's up in 45 minutes.
Might be a novel experience
to get there before it starts
for a change.
Please tell me
that you are... dressed.
Hi. What are you doing?
Government's brief came.
And look who else is on it.
I knew Griswold was trying
to get Brown over to the DOJ.
Looks like that worked.
- How's it look?
- Check out Appendix E.
It's every federal law
that discriminates
on the basis of sex.
We're looking them all up.
There must be hundreds.
- Good God.
- RUTH: Hmm.
BROWN: Well, you're convinced
Daugherty will see it our way.
Well, based on reading
all of his opinions, yes.
And so will Holloway.
But the final judge...
well, he's going to be
a tougher nut to crack.
- That's unacceptable.
- We need a unanimous decision
out of the Tenth Circuit,
We don't want so-called
gender discrimination
finding its way
to the Supreme Court.
Yes, sir, I understand that.
What-what makes this judge
so difficult?
Well, ma'am,
he's a civil rights crusader.
Two years ago,
he ordered Denver
to start busing black students
to white schools.
There were protests, arson,
demands for him
to quit the bench.
But even after someone threw
a bomb at his house,
Doyle wouldn't budge.
GRISWOLD: In that case,
he was enforcing the law.
The Ginsburgs
are asking him to make law.
We need to drive home
the difference.
Paint the judges a picture
of the America that will exist
if they rule the wrong way.
Children running home from
school to find no one's there.
Mommy's at the office
or on a factory floor.
Man and woman vie
for the same job,
she can work for less.
What is a man
without a paycheck
to take care of his family?
What woman would want him?
Wages would go down.
Divorce rates would soar.
The very fabric of our society
would begin to unravel.
Exactly. The other side
wants this to be
about the Equal Protection
The judges are deciding
what kind of country,
what kind of society
they want their children and
grandchildren to grow up in.
You make sure the court sees
what's at stake
is the American family.
Uh, Mom?
- Can I be on the jury?
- No, there is no jury
in federal appeals court,
no witnesses, no evidence.
Just you and the judges.
- Gerry!
- Hello.
- Hello.
- (CHUCKLES) How are you?
- You remember Jane.
- JANE: Hi.
Jane, my old professor,
Gerald Gunther.
Come on in.
Look at you. All grown up.
- Hello, James.
- Hi.
- What do you think of our courtroom?
- Huh.
Well, all that's missing
is Justice holding her scales.
So, who did Mel find
to be the third judge?
- Pauli Murray.
- So he's not making it easy for you, huh?
- Who's Pauli Murray?
- Thurgood Marshall himself
called Pauli's writings
the "Bible of
the civil rights movement."
I come bearing your gavel.
GUNTHER: Counsel for
the appellant, you may proceed.
- Again.
Your Honors,
and may it please the court.
Section 214 of the tax code
covers employed single women
who care for their dependents,
but excludes Charles Moritz,
a-a bachelor,
providing the same care.
My wife stays home
to raise our children.
Are you saying she's oppressed?
- No, Judge, but as a man, you may not...
- MEL: No, no, no.
Stop, stop. Stop.
Never make it about the judge.
(CHUCKLING): You don't think
the judge knows he's a man?
No, I don't want her to put him
on the defensive
- about it, though.
- In Brown, we put it out there
without apology: this is wrong.
Yeah, no offense,
but Ruth doesn't exactly have
Thurgood Marshall's, uh...
- Gravitas.
- Should I... should I start again?
Unless you think
you won the case already.
- GUNTHER: Whenever you're ready.
Uh, Your Honors,
and may it please the court.
Section 214 of the tax code
covers employed single women
who care for their dependents,
but excludes Charles Moritz,
a bachelor,
providing the same care.
There is no rational basis,
because this...
Wh-Why is it not rational?
Men go out; women stay home.
It's been the way of things
for thousands of years.
H-Historical justification
was also used to legitimize
the separation of the races.
- Now, classification...
- Are you saying
race and gender are the same?
both are...
unalterable biological traits.
This nation struggles
to give blacks
fair representation
throughout society.
- Can you pass that?
- And you're saying that,
if we decide
in your client's favor,
we're committing ourselves
to moving towards half
of our, I don't know,
firemen being women,
half our nurses being men?
But why shouldn't men
be nurses? And if-if women want
- to fight fires, then...
- What about pilots?
Yeah, again, if women choose
to take on these roles...
- Judges?
- Why not?
CEOs? Generals?
What about garbagemen?
You want to be a garbageman?
Well, and if-if men want to be
teachers or raise children...
- Oh, come on.
- Percentages aren't the point.
- Wrong.
- People should be able to pursue their passions.
Wrong, wrong.
You're screwing it up, Ruth!
Have you...
have you read the appendix
- attached to their brief?
- You're making the wrong case.
These are laws written by men
who think we are privileged
to be excused
from men's obligations.
But it is not a privilege,
it is a cage,
and these laws are the bars!
So, that's it?
You're gonna take them all on
at the same time?
You asked the questions.
Well, it doesn't mean you have
to fucking answer them, Ruth.
You're making
the government's case for them.
Look, you either make this case
about one man, or you lose.
'Cause to the judges,
you're not talking
about women in the abstract.
You're talking
about their wives,
at home, you know,
baking briskets.
You braise a brisket.
You don't bake it.
- Perhaps that's enough, Mel.
- No.
I don't think it is, Gerry.
Look, when you were a kid,
you were pretty
and you were smart as a whip,
but you're coming across
as this bitter, unlikable shrew
that I don't even recognize.
And if that's who shows up
in Denver, you will blow it.
And would it kill you to smile?
That's your advice? Just...
ignore the judges and smile?
Pt is the best
I've ever tasted.
You could evade.
Should women be firefighters?
"With all due respect,
Your Honor,
"I haven't considered it,
because my client
isn't a firefighter."
Or you can redirect.
"With respect, Judge, this case
is not about firefighters.
"It's about taxpayers,
and there's nothing
inherently masculine
about paying taxes."
Or crack a joke. "Your Honor,
anyone who's raised a child
"couldn't possibly
be intimidated
by a burning building."
- And then bring them back to your case.
Marty, you should do
the oral arguments.
No, no, no.
Ruth is the expert
on gender law.
At least half this case is tax.
Uh, the most important thing
is that Charles Moritz wins.
I said no, Mel. Drop it.
They could split the time.
Martin goes first,
focuses the argument on tax.
Then Ruth steps in,
talks about gender.
- Pauli, here you go.
- Thank you.
- Gerry, this is yours.
- Mel. Mel.
There is no aspect of the law
at which Ruth Ginsburg
can be bested.
I don't know how things work
at the ACLU, but if anyone
at my firm couldn't see that,
they would be fired.
Objection noted, counselor.
- She's still arguing half.
- This is her...
Listen, she's written
a revolutionary argument,
but brief writing is
an academic's job. Okay?
Oral arguments require a lawyer
who can command
a judge's respect.
A real appellate lawyer.
Oh, what a team
you're gonna be.
It was a good experience.
I think that was
a very productive exercise.
I have to go to a fund-raiser.
Pauli, Gerry, you want
to split a cab downtown?
- Sure.
- Sure.
- Good team, huh?
- It's good to see you, Gerry.
Thank you for coming.
- Bye-bye. - Bye.
- Bye. Great to see you.
You have such a light touch.
It... it's just
effortless for you,
- isn't it?
- Uh... Mel was goading you.
He was trying to make you
feel overwhelmed. That's...
Of course he was.
He's a relentless prick.
But it doesn't change the fact
- that I'm not ready.
- It's not your fault.
- You've never done this before.
- Well, is that what
I'm supposed to tell Charlie
when I blow it in court?
Do you want Theories in Public
Taxation with you in Denver?
- Who needs a tax reference when you have Marty?
- Did you pack the, uh...
the Kirk v. Commission brief?
Rutgers Law.
It's Mel Wulf for you.
Just tell him I'm not here.
I'm sorry, Mr....
He says it's urgent.
- Yeah.
- What was so important?
I'm excited to work with you.
Ah-ah. Shh, shh. Ah-ah. No.
I understand.
She just walked in.
And to you, too.
Ruth Ginsburg, Allen Derr.
How do you do?
The Supreme Court just
announced they're gonna hear
Reed v. Reed on appeal
from the Idaho Supreme Court.
- That's fantastic.
- ALLEN: Mrs. Reed is
very excited
for the opportunity.
Uh, Allen's
Sally Reed's lawyer.
So... is the ACLU gonna help?
Mm, you told me it was
the right thing to do, right?
ALLEN: Mel says that
no one knows this area
of the law better than you.
You're our secret weapon, Ruth.
y-you want me...
in the Supreme Court?
I, uh... uh...
I-I told Allen you'd be eager
to help him write his brief.
Well... basically,
take the Moritz brief
and swap around the pronouns.
- Isn't that right?
- Well, it's a...
little more involved than that.
- Joking.
All right,
let's start right away.
Allen, uh, enjoy the city.
You should catch a show
- while you're here.
- Oh, well, thank you.
- Yeah.
- Yeah.
Oh, uh, Kiki and I have
some stuff to discuss.
Yes, of course.
I'll-I'll get out of your way.
Uh, it was a pleasure
meeting you, Ruth.
Or Kiki.
Uh... Mel.
- Oh. Um, I...
- Ah. Don't forget that.
Mustn't forget that, yeah.
What a schmuck.
Let me argue Reed in court.
- Oh, give me a break.
- I have no less experience
than Allen Derr
in federal court.
- You have zero experience.
- If you're gonna use
- my arguments...
- He's been Sally Reed's lawyer
for three years;
she trusts him.
She wouldn't even let me argue
the case. Now, listen to me
for a second... we have
someone else to discuss.
Ernie Brown called
this morning.
In light of Reed going
to the Supreme Court,
the government wants to settle
the Moritz case for a dollar.
Reed ups the profile
of our case.
Th-They're getting nervous.
I told them you'd be in D.C. on
Monday to sign the paperwork.
Why would you say that?
Charlie won't want to settle.
Well, convince him.
I will not.
First, you took half
the argument away from me...
Nobody took anything away
from you, Ruth.
You weren't robbed
in the middle of the night.
All right? I was giving you
this opportunity
- for the good of the cause.
- You think you gave this to me?
In fact, I did.
And get your emotions in check.
You first.
Allen is gonna be arguing
in the Supreme Court
that times have changed.
We can't afford
the Tenth Circuit
saying that they haven't.
Nothing would strengthen
the argument more
- than the appeals court deciding for Charlie.
- Yes,
that would be very nice,
but here in the real world,
- with working lawyers...
- You think I can't be persuasive?
Oh, I've never been
more certain
about anything
in my life, Ruth.
You don't get to tell me
when to quit.
You couldn't even make it
through moot court
without embarrassing yourself.
You will lose, Ruth.
And when you do,
you will set the women's
movement back ten years. More.
We are dodging a bullet here.
Are you the only one
that can't see that?
These are Allen's briefs
from the previous appeals.
Tie them into the framework
of the Moritz brief.
I'll review it
when you're done.
It's a Supreme Court brief.
I can assign it to someone else
if that's what you'd prefer.
Oh, and-and, Ruth.
Uh, the sooner
you call Charlie, the better.
I had this idea.
What's that?
Well, it doesn't matter now.
Tell me.
We could have taken Appendix E
from the government's brief,
that entire comprehensive
list of laws
that differentiates
between the sexes, and...
and turn it
into our own hit list.
We could have started
a special project
at the ACLU to go after
those laws one by one,
in the legislature,
in the courts,
until women and men were
genuinely equal under the law.
And I've been running around
claiming things have changed.
Daddy told me about the case.
Why is Mel Wulf being
such a dick?
He thinks I'm gonna lose.
No way, Jose.
Not in my experience.
As Mr. Moritz's lawyer, I'm...
I'm ethically bound
to convey him the offer.
So would you like help taking
apart your life's work, or...
is that something
you'd rather do by yourself?
I know that this case, that...
...that I disrupted our lives,
I'm sorry.
Sorry for what?
For-for doing your job?
Who is it for...
if not for me?
CHARLIE: And they'll say it,
right? That I'm not a cheater,
- that the law is unfair?
- No, Charlie,
the government
won't say that on its own.
But if they don't say it,
how will I have won?
You-you haven't.
But you-you get the money.
What about everyone else?
When you came to see me,
you said...
Charlie, the settlement
is only for you.
- No one else can benefit.
But could we win?
we could, and...
and the impact
would last generations.
But the ACLU feels...
it's best
if you take the offer.
But you're my lawyer, Ruth.
What do you think?
- Ah, Ruth.
- Professor Brown.
Please come in.
Dean Griswold.
Mrs. Ginsburg.
I'm pleased you found a use
for your Harvard education.
Actually, what I'm doing now,
I learned at Columbia.
Ruth was always my most
thoroughly prepared student.
So much to prove.
These days, the girls are
as hopeless as the men.
- How's little Jane?
Not so little.
And we have another. James.
Mm, I'm sure
they keep you busy.
Both of us.
Ernie has your paperwork ready.
My client was very excited
about your offer.
Good. Good.
He did, however,
have some conditions.
What kind of conditions?
First of all,
he'd like you to forgive
a hundred percent of the money.
None of this
one dollar business.
Yes, well, I'm sure
we can manage to arrange that.
And he'd like the government
to concede
that he did nothing wrong.
And enter into the court record
that Section 214
of the tax code
on the basis of sex
and is therefore
I can't agree to that.
And you know it.
Does Mel Wulf know about this?
Then we'll see you in court.
Thank you, gentlemen.
It was a pleasure.
Your Honors...
and may it please the court.
Your Honors...
and may it please the court.
Your Honors, and may it...
Section 214 of the tax code.
Section 214
of the tax code.
Your Honors...
and may it please the court.
Good morning.
You're ready for this.
You've been ready for this
your whole life.
So go in there
and let the judges see
the Ruth Ginsburg I know.
- Oh, Professor Brown.
- Marty.
- Good to see you.
- You remember our daughter Jane.
- Charlie.
- Good morning.
- You must be Jane.
- Nice to meet you, Mr. Moritz.
- Mr. Ginsburg.
- No, uh, Mel Wulf.
- That's me. I'm Mr. Ginsburg.
- Nice to meet you, Charles.
- My pleasure.
Well, here we are.
All rise.
The United States Court of
Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
is now in session.
Judges Doyle, Holloway
and Daugherty presiding.
Be seated.
You have a century
of case law on your side.
Just do your job.
The first case is
docket number 71-1127.
Charles Moritz v. Commissioner
of Internal Revenue.
Each side will have
30 minutes to present.
When two minutes remain,
the court clerk will rise
to give warning; when your time
is up, he will sit.
Counsel for the appellant,
Mr. Ginsburg, you may proceed.
Good morning, Your Honors,
and may it please the court.
Today we are going
to demonstrate
that Section 214
of the U.S. tax code
unfairly discriminates
against our client,
Mr. Charles Moritz,
because he is a man.
Congress assumed that
a caregiver
is most likely a woman.
Is that so unreasonable?
If the law says all caregivers
are entitled to a deduction,
and if the writers,
in the back of their mind,
thought, well,
this will only apply to women,
then that would be
an assumption.
But they went farther
than that, Judge.
They explicitly list
who qualifies
- as a caregiver.
- As is their prerogative.
Yes, but, Judge,
I doubt that you would turn
the same blind eye if it said
only white caregivers.
Oh, that's hardly
the same thing.
Respectfully, we disagree.
I'm gonna turn it over
to my cocounsel,
who will discuss the
constitutional questions...
You're telling us that race
and gender are the same?
My cocounsel...
Yes, yes, we'll get to her
in a minute.
But I'd appreciate an answer
to my question.
In order for a law
to discriminate,
it must distinguish
between groups arbitrarily.
Is that correct?
My cocounsel will...
Mr. Ginsburg.
I have asked you.
It must be arbitrary. Yes.
And in this case,
we believe the law is.
Mr. Moritz is a man
who never married.
That may make him less likely
to have childcare
but not parent care
- And had he been a woman...
- DOYLE: And to your mind,
classifications of this kind
must always be discriminatory?
There's some help.
He's asking him
to make a broad
categorical claim.
I can't speak to always, Judge.
I can only speak to this case
and this man.
Very well.
Thank you.
Then speak of him.
Again, the only distinction
between our client, Mr. Moritz,
and any other caregiver,
in Judge Daugherty's words,
is arbitrary.
Thank you,
and I cede the remainder
of my time to my cocounsel.
Your Honors...
Whenever you're ready,
Mrs. Ginsburg.
Your Honors,
and may it please the court.
Section 214
denies Mr. Moritz
a caregiver tax deduction
available to similarly
situated women...
Yes, yes, we've...
we've been through all that.
(CHUCKLES) Uh, Mrs. Ginsburg,
you are aware
that the government has
three coequal branches?
- Mrs. Ginsburg?
- Yes, of course, Your Honor.
And that it is the
Congress's role to write law?
Your Honor, I understand
how government works.
Take it easy, Ruth.
Well, uh, sometimes a law,
even a good law,
even a law that is legal
under the Constitution,
may not be good for every
individual it affects.
I have a question.
If I understand correctly,
you're concerned about men
and women being pigeonholed
into certain roles
based on gender.
Yes, that's correct.
- Because...
- Excuse me.
Uh, that wasn't my question.
It strikes me
that the caregiver deduction
does the opposite.
It helps women be able to work
outside the home.
Isn't that a good thing?
But the law assumes
it must be the woman
who is supposed to be at home
in the first place.
Well, that is the case
in every family I know.
So it's the assumption
that's the problem.
Then when can a law
on the basis of sex? Never?
When the classification
rationally relates to the law.
Keeping women out of combat,
for example.
I'm not sure whether I agree
with that example...
Oh, so you think women belong
on the front lines now, too?
No, that's not what...
Gender, like race,
is a biological,
unalterable trait.
There is nothing that women are
inherently better at than men,
nor vice versa.
Growing a beard?
- Well, that's...
- Lactation.
No thinking person
could possibly imagine
that Charles Moritz's
gender relates
- to his abilit...
Why can't we, Mrs. Ginsburg?
In most households, aren't
women the primary caregivers?
Aren't men the breadwinners?
Aren't they?
Most households,
yes, Your Honor.
Doesn't that reality suggest
that that's
the natural order of things?
Respectfully, Your Honors,
I'd like to reserve
the remainder of my time
for rebuttal.
Not sure I followed that.
H-How are we doing?
It's okay.
It's not over yet.
Mr. Bozarth for the appellee,
- you may proceed.
- Don't let them forget
what this case is really about.
You'll be fine.
Ah, Bozarth.
- The, uh, master of citations.
That's what my family
calls me, too, Judge.
Your Honors,
and may it please the court.
Congress created
this tax deduction
to help caregivers
go out and work.
Folks that, if they weren't
working, would stay home.
Now, are we meant
to believe that this man
would have the skill
or even the caregiver's
instinct to do that?
Why can't we believe that?
Why does an unwed woman
have that instinct
but not an unwed man?
Or a widower, for that matter?
BOZARTH: Well, respectfully,
Judge Doyle,
a widower doesn't choose
to be a caregiver.
It's thrust upon them.
And as for women,
it doesn't take
a legal treatise
to prove what
a hundred thousand years
of human history
has made indelibly clear.
And Congress can write
the tax code to enforce
this natural law?
Congress can write
whatever tax code it wants.
All I'm saying, Judge,
is that given
the natural order of things,
this man, Mr. Moritz,
hasn't suffered as a result.
But the country will suffer
if the court doesn't find
for the appellee.
Your Honors, I am certain
there isn't a man among us
who wouldn't try to ease
his wife's burdens.
So I don't see
how we can judge negatively
the members of Congress
who would do the same.
And I'm not alone in that.
There is a long and honorable
tradition in the courts
of upholding laws
like this one.
I, for one, would rather see
my government err
on the side
of caring too much...
...of trying too hard
to help the ladies
of this country,
rather than to be indifferent
to their unique burdens.
Now, maybe Mr. Moritz
Or maybe he just
doesn't like paying taxes.
I don't believe that.
I believe that Charles Moritz
is a victim.
Not of his government,
but of the lawyers
who have used his case
to achieve their own ends.
Radical social change.
We rest our case
on our briefs and argument,
and ask that the court uphold
the tax court's decision.
Thank you.
Counsel for the appellant,
you have four minutes
for rebuttal.
Counsel for the appellant?
"Radical social change."
When I was in law school,
there was no women's bathroom.
It's amazing to me now
that we never complained.
Not because we were timid;
we were just astounded
to be in law school at all.
A hundred years ago, Myra
Bradwell wanted to be a lawyer.
She had fulfilled
the requirements
for the Illinois bar,
but she wasn't allowed
to practice
because she was a woman.
An injustice she asked
the Supreme Court to correct.
Illinois was so confident
of victory,
they didn't even send a lawyer
to argue their side.
They were right.
She lost.
That was the first time
someone went to court
to challenge his or her
prescribed gender role.
A hundred years ago.
"Radical... social...
65 years ago,
when women in Oregon
wanted to work overtime
and make more money,
as men could, the court looked
to the precedent in Bradwell
and said no.
So then there were
two precedents.
Then three, then four,
and on and on,
and you can draw a direct line
from Myra Bradwell
to Gwendolyn Hoyt,
told ten years ago
she was not entitled
to a jury of her peers.
That is the legacy
the government asks you
to uphold today.
You are being urged
to protect the culture
and traditions and morality
of an America
that no longer exists.
A generation ago,
my students would have been
arrested for indecency
for wearing the clothes
that they do.
- 65 years ago,
it would have been unimaginable
that my daughter
would aspire to a career.
And a hundred years ago...
I would not have the right
to stand before you.
There are 178 laws
that differentiate
on the basis of sex.
Count them.
The government did the favor
of compiling them for you.
And while you're at it...
I urge you to read them.
They're obstacles
to our children's aspirations.
You're asking us to overturn
nearly a century of precedent.
I'm asking you
to set a new precedent,
as courts have done before
when the law is outdated.
But in those cases,
the courts had
a clear constitutional handle.
The word "woman"
does not appear even once
in the U.S. Constitution.
Nor does the word "freedom,"
Your Honor.
Go on...
Professor Ginsburg.
The principal purpose
of Section 214
is not to protect women
nor to discriminate
against men.
It is to provide caregivers
the opportunity
to work outside the home.
Therefore, as the Supreme Court
did in Levy v. Louisiana,
this court should fix the law
most in line
with the legislative intent.
Extend the deduction
to never-married men.
Help all caregivers equally.
Charles Moritz was well-raised
to be the sort of man
we should all hope our sons
will become.
Charlie deserves
our admiration.
Not only has he
taken on the burden
of caring for his
very strong-willed mother
when no one would
expect it of him,
but in doing so, he has
surpassed the limitations
the rest of us and our laws
seek to force upon him.
We're not asking you
to change the country.
That's already happened
without any court's permission.
We're asking you to protect the
right of the country to change.
Our sons and daughters
are barred by law
from opportunities
based on assumptions
about their abilities.
How will they ever disprove
these assumptions
if laws like Section 214
are allowed to stand?
We all must take these laws on,
one by one,
for as long as it takes,
for their sakes.
You have the power
to set the precedent
that will get us started.
You can right this wrong.
We rest our case
on our briefs and argument,
and ask...
that you reverse
the tax court's decision.
That was perfect.
- That was perfect.
- We don't even know who won.
Doesn't matter.
It was right.
This is just the beginning.
- Mm!
I'm gonna go gloat.
- Martin. Thank you.
- Of course, Charles.
Ruth, I...
- We'll be in touch.
- Yeah.
You did it.
We did it.
Oh, and I say we celebrate
and go pick up James
and get some pizza.
We'll hear arguments next
in number four,
Reed against Reed...
...next in, uh, 71-1694,
Frontiero against Laird.
JUDGE 1: ...Weinberger
against Wiesenfeld.
...Khan against Shell.
JUDGE 4: ...Edwards
against Healy and others.
Mrs. Ginsburg.
Mr. Chief Justice,
and may it please the court.
Amicus views this case as kin
to Reed v. Reed, 404 U.S.
The sex criterion stigmatizes
when it is used to limit
hours of work for women only.
It assumes that all women
are preoccupied
with home and children.
These distinctions have
a common effect.
They help keep woman
in her place,
a place inferior
to that occupied by men.
The law must stop using sex
as a shorthand
for functional description.
The judgment enjoins
enforcement of the statute
insofar as it discriminates
on the basis of sex.
...practical effect,
laws of this quality
help to keep women
not on a pedestal,
but in a cage.
Sarah Grimk said,
"I ask no favor for my sex.
"All I ask of our brethren
is that they take their feet
off our necks."
Oh, one day I'll be gone
The world'll keep turning
I hope I leave this place
Better than I found it
Oh, it's hard,
I know it's hard
To be the lightning
in the dark
Hold on tight,
you'll be all right
You know it's time
Here comes the change
We're coming of age
This is not a phase
Here comes
Here comes the change
Is it a crazy thought
That if I have a child
I hope they live
to see the day
That everyone's equal?
Oh, it's hard,
I know it's hard
To be the right
inside the wrong
Hold on tight,
we'll be all right
You know it's ti-i-ime...
Oh, here comes the change
Oh, we're coming of age
This is not a phase
Here comes
Here comes the change
Hope there'll come
a time when we
Time when we
We can live and die free
And die free
I hope and pray
There'll come the day
And it's coming soon
Here comes the change
We're coming of age
This is not a phase
Here comes, here comes
Here comes the change
Oh, we're coming of age
This is not a phase
Oh, here come
And here comes the change
It's time to change
We are the change
Oh, here comes the change.