RBG (2018) Movie Script

(theme music playing)
Michael Savage: This witch.
This evil doer. This monster.
Mark Levin: She has no respect
for the traditions
of our constitution, none.
Donald Trump: An absolute
disgrace to the Supreme Court.
Rick Wiles: She's one
of the most vile human beings.
Scott Lively: She's very wicked,
Michael Savage:
She's Anti-American.
Bill O'Reilly: She's a zombie.
The woman 's a zombie,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg:
I ask no favor for my sex.
All | ask of our brethren...
is that they take their feet off
our necks.
J Forget the bull
in the china shop J
J There's a china doll
in the bullpen J
J Walk with a switch,
fire in her fist J
J Biting at the bit,
swing at every pitch J
J Coach put me in like I
J Forget the bull
in the china shop J
J There's a china doll
in the bullpen J
J It's all in the wrist,
fire from the hip J
I Talk a little shit
roll thick, whole clique J
J Let's begin like I
Twenty-six, 25, 24, 23,
21, 20, 19
J It's been assumed
I 'm soft or irrelevant J
J 'Cause I refuse to downplay
my intelligence J
J But in a room of thugs
and rap veterans J
J Why am I the only one
who's acting like a gentleman J
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
(crowd cheering)
J Looks to me like
a little of your true school J
J Is at the shallow end
of the typing pool J
I All cloak, no dagger
just smoke and swagger J
- Nina Totenberg: How's your health?
- Uh, I'm feeling just fine.
(crowd cheering)
Here now to comment
is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Totenberg: It's an amazing
thing to see somebody in her 80s
- become such an icon.
- Do you mind signing this copy?
I am 84 years old and everyone
wants to take a picture with me.
She is really, when you come
right down to it,
the closest thing
to a superhero I know.
I And I love this job
but ah good God J
J Sometimes Ihate
this business J
They call her Notorious RBG,
that's her rap name.
- Notorious R...
- RBG.
- Yeah, no, no, RGB. RBG right.
- The Notorious...
(crowd cheering)
News Anchor:
Supreme Court Justice,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg getting
a lot of attention
after she delivered
a scathing dissent.
Whether you agree with her
or not, you got to acknowledge
she's been a force
on that court.
Liberal hero,
Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
As much as people admire her,
they don't even know
the half of it.
Kathleen Peratis:
She was the queen.
Harry Edwards: Ruth knew
what she was doing
in laying the foundation.
Arthur Miller: To put women
on exactly the same plane as men.
Toten berg :
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
quite literally changed the way
the world is for American women.
Twelve, 11, ten, nine, eight,
seven, six, five...
Joe Biden: Today the Senate
Judiciary Committee welcomes
Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
the President's nominee
to be Associate Justice
the United States Supreme Court.
J Let's begin like I
(camera shutters clicking)
Judge do you swear the testimony
you are about to give
will be the whole truth
and nothing but the truth,
so help you God?
- I do, Mr. Chairman.
- Thank you.
I am a Brooklynite,
born and bred...
a first-generation American
on my father's side...
barely second-generation
on my mother's.
What has become of me
could happen...
only in America.
Ruth: Neither of my parents
had the means to attend college,
but both taught me
to love learning...
to care about people...
and to work hard for whatever
I wanted or believed in.
Ruth: My father was
from Odessa
and during his
growing up years,
Jews were no longer admitted
to the Russian schools.
was terribly important.
My mother was loving
but also very strict,
making sure I that I did my...
homework, practice the piano,
didn't stay out jumping rope
too long.
Iloved to do the things
that boys did,
when I was growing up.
One of our favorite things
was climbing garage roofs
from one roof to another,
leaping over.
Justice Ginsburg,
we cannot call Ruth.
- Right.
- We call her Kiki.
Ann Kittener: She was beautiful.
Big beautiful blue eyes,
which you really can't see
very well behind her glasses,
very soft brown hair.
She had this kind
of quiet magnetism
even though she was
not effusive.
Harryette Helsel: You always thought
that she wasn 't listening
and that she didn't know
what was going on
but she knew what was going on.
- She didn't do small talk.
- No, no small talk.
And she didn't do girl chat
and she didn't get on the phone
and talk with us about what
happened on the weekend.
She's a deep thinker.
- She's an only child.
- No...
She had a sister, I didn't know
her sister.
- Her sister passed away.
- Right.
Helsel: But she and her mom
were very close,
very, very close.
Ruth: My mother died
when I was 17.
| wish I could've had her...
Well, her mother must have been
a very steely person
because she had cancer
a long time
and... and lived
trying to get her child
through high school.
Kittener: We were supposed to be
at graduation.
And then the night before
we got a message
that she would not be able
to be part of this.
We knew then that her mother had
passed away.
Ruth: She had two... lessons
that she repeated over and over.
"Be a lady... "
and "Be independent."
"Be a lady" meant don't allow
yourself to be overcome
by useless emotions like anger.
And by "Independent,"
she meant...
it would be fine if you met
Prince Charming
and lived happily ever after.
be able to fend for yourself.
In my lifetime, I expect to see
three, four,
perhaps even more women
on the High Court bench.
Women not shaped
from the same mold,
but of different complexions.
I surely would not be
in this room today...
without the determined efforts
of men and women who kept dreams
of equal citizenship alive.
l have had the great good
fortune to share life...
with a partner.
Truly extraordinary
for his generation...
a man who believed at age 18,
when we met,
that a woman's work,
whether at home or on the job...
is as important as a man's.
Ibecame a lawyer... in days...
when women were not wanted
by most members
of the legal profession.
I became a lawyer because Marty
supported that choice...
Totenberg: So what was it
about Marty?
(audience laughing)
Ruth: Marty and I met
when I was 17, he was 18.
Iwas in college.
Cornell was a preferred school
for daughters.
In those days, there was
a strict quota for women.
There were four men
to every woman...
so for parents, Cornell was
the ideal place to send a girl.
(audience laughing)
If she couldn't find
her man there, she was hopeless.
My first semester at Cornell,
I never did a repeat date.
(audience laughing
and applauding)
Ruth: But then Imet Marty,
and there was something
amazingly wonderful
about this man.
He was the first boy I ever knew
who cared that I had a brain.
Most guys in the '503 didn't.
One of the sadnesses
about the brilliant girls
who attended Cornell is
that they kind of suppressed
how smart they were.
But Marty was so confident
of his own ability...
so comfortable with himself,
that he never regarded me
as any kind of a threat.
We all were struck
by the tremendous difference
between Marty... and Ruth.
Marty was the most gregarious,
outgoing, Iife-of-the-party.
Ruth was a really quite...
recessive in a way...
shy, quiet, soft voice
but they worked, they worked.
(movie projector clicking)
Oh, he's so young.
Ruth: Meeting Marty...
was by far the most fortunate
thing that ever happened to me.
Marty was a man blessed
with a wonderful sense of humor.
I tend to be rather sober.
(marching band drums)
In those days, it was not
a great time for our country.
There was a Red Scare abroad
in the land.
Are you a member
of the Communist party
or have you ever been a member
of the Communist party?
It's unfortunate and tragic
that l have to teach
this committee
the principles of Americanism.
Chairman: That's not
the question.
Ruth: Ihad a government
and he wanted me to see
that our country was straying
from its most basic values
by some of our politicians
who were seeing a Communist
in every closet.
But that there were lawyers,
who were defending the rights
of these people to think,
to speak, to write freely.
Chairman: Stand away
from the stand!
Fight for the Bill of Rights
you're trying to destroy.
Chairman: Officer,
take this man
away from the stand.
Ruth: And then Igot the idea
that you could do something
that would make your society
a little better.
My family had some reservations
about this...
but then when Imarried
at the end of college,
my family said, if she wants
to be a lawyer let her try.
If she can 't succeed...
she will have a husband
to support her.
That's me waiting to get
my diploma, very happy.
- Yeah, see? That's a nice one.
- That's cute. Yeah.
So, we have a whole slew
of pictures.
They took them from every
possible angle.
You know who that is?
- It's Dean Minow.
- Oh. Dean Minow is so small.
We're the same height!
She's not that small,
she's probably taller than you.
There's somebody in there.
Clara Spera: My brother and cousins
and I all call her Bubbe.
It's the Yiddish word
for grandmother.
It's what we've always
called Bubbe.
- Spera: Bubbe!
- Yes?
Spera: Do you know if you have
fake sugar like Splenda
- or Sweet n Low?
- Yes, it should be someplace...
Spera: That's helpful.
I feel like I have
my grandmotherly relationship
with her but also somewhat
of a student scholarly
relationship to her as well now.
She taught me that the way
to win an argument
is not to yell.
Because often that will turn
people away more so,
than bringing them
to your table.
Spera: I don't know
what that says...
I can't tell if...
For Extraordinary Dedication
to the Harvard Law School
and efforts on its behalf.
You know, this was
the 200th year of Harvard.
So, it took 200 years for us...
We were the first class
that was 50/50 women.
So 50 percent men...
We were the first class.
It takes 200... No. Yeah.
Miller: Women did not come
into the Harvard Law School
until the very early '503.
Two percent was about what
it was back then.
How did it feel to be one
of nine women in a class of...
over 500 men?
You felt you were constantly
on display.
So if you were called on
in class,
you felt that, if you didn't
perform well,
that you were failing not just
for yourself but for all women.
You also had
the uncomfortable feeling
that you were being watched.
American antitrust policy...
Brenda Feigen: Harvard was
a Socratic method.
So the professor would ask
a question
and then you would be called on
to answer.
The way it worked with women
was they didn't call on us.
I think they were afraid,
we would sort of wither
if we were subjected
to that kind of questioning.
Ruth: When I was sent to check
a periodical, in Lamont Library
in the old periodical room.
There was...
a man at the door and he said,
"You can't come in."
"Well, why can't I come in?"
"Because you're a female."
There was nothing I could say,
this was a university employee,
you can't come into that room.
Ruth: And then there was
the dean's famous dinner
for the women in the first year
He asked each of us to stand up
and tell him what we were doing
taking a seat...
that could be occupied by a man.
Ruth: There were
many indignities
that one took as just part
of the scenery the way it was.
When I got
to Harvard Law School
"Oh my wife. She's going to be
on the Law Review."
There was a woman in the class
ahead of mine and she said,
"This husband of yours
is boasting
that you're going to be
on the Law Review,
you look like a little twerp!"
To make the Law Review,
in those days you had to be
in the top 25 academically,
of 530, 540.
Her second year she makes
the Law Review.
So the mere fact marked her
as something special.
Ruth: It turned out,
that I did very well
the first year and I attributed
to having something
very important in my life
that wasn't the law books.
I came to Harvard as the mother
of a 14 month old child.
I'd go to school...
study as hard as I can,
in a very concentrated way,
I didn't waste any time.
Four o'clock in the afternoon
our babysitter left
and that was...
my child's hours
till she went...
to sleep.
Playing with my daughter
gave me a respite
from the kind of work
I was doing at law school...
and I think made me more sane.
Miller: We knew that Marty
was ill.
We just knew he had
his own battle
and Ruth is now caring
for both Marty and Janey.
Ruth: Marty in his third year
of law school
had a virulent cancer
in days when
there was no chemotherapy,
there was only massive
He'd go for the radiation,
wake up about midnight
when the only food that he ate
for the day he could manage.
And then Istarted typing
the notes that his classmates
had given me from his classes,
reading whatever cases
I would read for the next day
and maybe I got
two hours sleep.
Totenberg: She did her own work,
helped her husband
with his work,
organized his friends so they
could help him with his work
and took care
of her two year old child.
Fortunately Marty lived...
but it's when she learned
how to burn the candle at both ends.
Jim Ginsberg: One of the memories
of my childhood would be
waking up in the middle
of the night
and there mom be spread out
over the dining room table
with her legal pads, uh, and,
uh, the coffee in one hand,
and the box of prunes
at the other.
She will work until two, three,
four, five in the morning
sometimes even, uh, later,
then she will get up,
she has a sitting
she would have to be
at the court before nine,
and then she sleeps
the entire weekend.
So she catches up.
Lisa Frelinghuysen: The sweet thing
about working for a Justice
who works extremely hard
is that we saw Marty come
to chambers often...
to lure her home.
He would say, "Ruth, it's time
to come home for dinner. "
She sometimes had to be
physically brought home.
Miller: Marty graduated
from The Harvard Law School
and was going to a firm
in New York.
That was when Ruth finished
her second year,
given Marty,
given his recent illness,
they had to remain together,
and the logical place
was New York
and the best option
was Columbia.
Ruth: When Igraduated
from Columbia Law School
in 1959,
not a law firm in the entire
city of New York
would employ me.
Miller: Four of us
from my class, Marty's class,
went to the same law firm
and two of us went
to the hiring partner
and said...
we had somebody
on the Harvard Law Review
that we think is the cat's meow,
we think this firm should hire
As soon as | used the "she"
the senior partner looked at me
and says, "Young man...
you don't seem to understand.
This firm doesn't hire women."
She hadn't quite figured out,
why it was that there were
these barriers.
It wasn't until later
that this all came together
- and became her life's work in,
- Yes.
in fighting these injustices.
Ruth: Being a woman
was an impediment.
Feigen: We did not have
equal rights
and equal recognition
in the law at all.
Toten berg: There were not hundreds
but thousands of state
and federal laws all over
this country that discriminated
on the basis of gender.
Typical laws of the time like,
"The husband is the master
of the community.
He shall choose where the family
will live
and the woman is obliged
to follow him."
There's no aspect
of American life
in which you were not treated
The idea was that...
men were the breadwinners
that counted
and women were...
pin money earners.
So women woke up and complained.
J You're gonna rise
rise up singin' J
J You're gonna
spread your wings I
J Child and take,
take to the sky J
J Lord the sky J
There came to be such a mass
and a majority of women really
who understood that they were
not crazy, the system was crazy.
Gloria Steinem: Now, thanks
to the spirit of equality in the air,
| no longer accept
society's judgment
that my group is second class.
Wendy Williams: But marching
and demonstrating
just wasn't Ruth's thing.
Her thing was to use the skills
she had and put them to work
and those were her legal skills.
In 1963, she started at Rutgers
as a law professor.
And really inspired
by her students,
she agreed to teach a course
in this new subject of gender
and law.
Ruth: In the late 60's,
some of the students wanted
a course in Women and the Law.
Williams: That's also when...
she began dealing
with sex discrimination cases.
And that was her entre
into becoming a litigator.
Aryeh Neier: The emergence
of a women's rights movement
had the possibility of playing
the role in the 19703
that the black civil rights
movement had played
in the 19605.
And so I was particularly eager
to create a special project
dealing with women's rights.
I got a call from the ACLU
asking me if I would consider
running the Women's Rights
with Professor Ruth Bader
Whom I had heard
of but I did not know.
I met Ruth the first day
Iwas there.
She seemed very polite and quiet
and reserved. Not a firebrand.
Neier: She wouldn't speak up
a great deal during meetings.
She always addressed
whatever point there was.
There wasn't any peripheral
element of it.
- Betsy West: No small talk.
- No small talk.
None that I can recall.
Feigen: At that point in time,
Ruth was developing
her philosophy to take cases
that would make good law.
If the case is going to be
on its way to the Supreme Court,
we wanted to be involved
and we wanted to...
Frankly, take over the case.
Totenberg: She was following
in the footsteps
of the great civil rights lawyer
Thurgood Marshall, who was
the architect of the battle
for racial equality
basing it on the clause
of the constitution
that guarantees equal
protection of the law.
She wanted it to apply
to equal protection for women.
My first argument before
the U.S. Supreme Court
was in Frontiero v. Richardson.
Sharron Frontiero: Iwas,
way back in the 19703, a...
second lieutenant
in the Air Force.
I went in the military
because I needed the money.
Air Force Ad: Who says a woman
has to settle for a routine job
just because she's a woman?
the United States Air Force
and you'll discover the world.
Frontiero: I was newly out
of college, this was a new job,
I had just married, so it was
the start of new everything.
It became clear pretty quickly
that the men I was working with
who were married got
a housing allowance
and I wasn't getting paid
a housing allowance
'cause I was a woman.
Iassumed it was a mistake
so I went off to the pay office
to correct the mistake.
"You're lucky we let you
in here at all.
You're lucky that the Air Force
allows you to serve,"
was what I heard right off
the bat.
It took me aback and then
I figured,
well you know, here's one bigot,
so I'll just keep asking around
and it became very clear
very quickly
that there was no different
So we went to see a lawyer
and I still thought it was
a matter of getting a lawyer
to write a letter for me.
Just write a letter,
have the right information.
I'm clearly in the same
category as these other men.
The lawyer said to me,
"This isn't
an administrative error.
This is the law and it's going
to have to be rectified
with a lawsuit
and if you're willing,
we'll take you on."
Feigen: Ruth and! heard
about it
and immediately let the lawyer
for Sharron Frontiero
know we were interested.
It was very important to us
to have a part in that case.
Frontiero: Nice girls
didn 't file lawsuits.
Particularly after they had been let
into the service at all.
You know, what more did I want?
Well, ljust wanted to be
treated like everybody else did.
But there was the sense
and there still is the sense,
that nice girls don't speak up,
nice girls don't make demands.
Ah well, too bad.
It went to the district court
in Alabama.
We lost and the next court
to go to was the Supreme Court.
Feigen: Ruth and I set to work
to write the brief.
I would write a section
and Ruth would take it
and it would come back in
a wonderfully brilliant fashion.
Every word of it
was carefully...
Imean Ruth went over
every single word.
What we wanted was
a review of cases
that the court would say,
sex discrimination doesn't work.
And it would be a broad command
basically to legislatures
to get rid of statutes
that discriminate on the basis
of... of gender.
But she also added to make
the point much more poignant,
the history of women
and the way we were treated
throughout America
and its beginnings.
She captured for the
male members of the court
Williams: Frontiero went
to the court.
Ruth Ginsburg,
for the first time,
made an oral argument.
She split her time
with the lawyer,
the man who had begun the case
in Alabama.
Ruth: It was an afternoon
So I was first up
in the afternoon
and I didn't dare have lunch
that day.
Feigen: She seemed nervous.
Her eyes were wide with sort
of anticipation.
It's very intense and austere
and important
and very male
and it's the whole thing
feels like.
l was... I was really kind
of scared.
We sat down
at the counsel table
and had all these
huge casebooks
for me to help her with cites.
And the Court began
with the "Oyez oyez,"
and the "Here we are."
Court Officer: Oyez oyez oyez.
All persons having business
before the Supreme Court
of the United States
are admonished to draw near
and give their attention
for the Court is now sitting.
(gavel strikes)
- Chief Justice: Mrs. Ginsburg.
- Ruth: I was terribly, terribly
nervous but then Ilooked up
at the Justices
and I thought,
"I have a captive audience. "
I knew that I was speaking
to men,
who didn't think
there was any such thing
as gender-based discrimination.
And my job was to tell them
it really exists.
There was not a single question.
| just went on speaking
and l, at the time...
wondered, "Are they just
indulging me and not listening
or am | telling them something
they haven't heard before
and are they paying attention?"
Feigen: The Justices were
just glued to her.
I don't think they were
expecting to have to deal
with something as powerful
as a sheer force of her argument
that was just all encompassing
and they were there to talk
about a little statute
in the government code.
I mean, it was just th...
We seized the moment
to change American society.
Ruth: In asking the Court
to declare sex
a suspect criterion...
we urge a position forcibly
stated in 1837 by Sara Grimke,
noted abolitionist
and advocate of equal rights
for men and women.
She said, "I ask no favor
for my sex.
All | ask of our brethren
is that they take their feet
off our necks."
Frontiero: We were told
about the decision
when a reporter called us up
and said, "It went in your favor
today, how do you feel?"
I said, "I feel fine,
thank you very much!"
We were both happy
that we won the case.
Let's be clear about it,
we won the case. But...
we lost the standard of review
that we wanted by one vote.
Williams: She tried to make
the case,
that sex discrimination
should be treated
like race discrimination.
Fourjustices signed
onto that idea.
The problem was you need five.
Ruth: I said...
It's too soon.
My expectation, to be candid,
was that I would repeat
that kind of argument...
maybe half a dozen times.
I didn't expect it to happen
in one fell swoop.
I think generally
in our society, real change...
enduring change,
happens one step at a time.
The legal strategy of one step
at a time in the '705
was a conservative strategy
but the goal was equality
and civil rights
and that's who she always was
and who she is now.
Frelinghuysen: She is very
disciplined but she has passions
that she really enjoys.
She loves the opera.
Spera: She goes to multiple
opera festivals
and the whole family
will go with her.
I think it is a place
of tranquility
that is outside of the demands
of her job.
(singing opera)
Ruth: When lam at an opera...
I get totally carried away.
I don't think about the case
that's coming up next week,
or the brief
that I'm in the middle of.
I'm overwhelmed by the beauty
of the music, the drama.
And the sound of human voice...
it's like an electric current
going through me.
(singing opera)
Ruth: Justice and mercy,
they're all in opera.
Very grand emotions.
Ruth: A young man had
a tragic experience.
His wife she'd had
an entirely healthy pregnancy,
and he was told that he had
a healthy baby boy
but his wife had died.
Stephen Wiesenfeld:
The problem was amniotic embolism
and at that particular point
nobody had ever survived that.
They did keep her alive
for about four hours
but by 3:30 in the afternoon,
the Code Blue came along
and she died.
Jason was a very easy child.
My attitude towards raising
a child is that,
a child is not there for me,
I'm there for him!
And that's what my job was.
Ruth: He determined that he was
going to be
a care-giving parent
to that child.
He went to the local
Social Security office
and asked about the benefits
a sole surviving parent
could get.
And he was told,
"Well, that benefit is called
a mother's benefit,"
and he didn't qualify.
So, he wrote a letter
to the editor
of his local newspaper.
And he said, "I have heard
a lot about women's lib.
Let me tell you my story."
Wiesenfeld: "To the Editor.
It has been my misfortune
to discover that a male cannot
collect social security benefits
as a woman can.
Had I been paying
into the social security system
and had I died, she would have
been able to receive a benefit.
But male homemakers cannot.
I wonder if Gloria Steinem knows
about this.
Ruth took a case in which a man
was discriminated against
in order to show...
the depth and the importance
of sex discrimination.
Very intelligent thing to do.
Wiesenfeld: We appeared
in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975.
When we got to the courtroom,
she sat me down
at the table with her,
she just wanted a male presence
to be at that table
so that the Justices would have
something to identify with.
That was a part of her strategy.
She was trying to convince
members of the Supreme Court
who were mostly white, male,
privileged class at that time.
She knew exactly
what she was doing
and it was a very shrewd
Ruth: That case resulted
in a unanimous judgment
in Stephen Wiesenfeld's favor.
His case was the perfect example
of how gender-based
discrimination hurts everyone.
Kathleen Peratis: Ruth's conception
of the strategy led
to a whole string of litigation
for the next decade.
Neier: She wanted to build
the idea of women's equality
step by step to use each case
to move things forward.
It was like knitting a sweater.
Potter Stewart:
They didn't get it.
They didn't understand
the issues that women
were facing
or they didn't see them
'Cause women had, in their minds
women had a place
and it wasn't...
where Ruth Ginsburg was
suggesting that it ought to be.
William Rehnquist:
- (chuckles)
- (people laughing)
West: When they would say
things like this,
how did you respond?
Well, never in anger,
as my mother told me.
That would've been
Always as an opportunity
to teach.
I did see myself as kind
of a kindergarten teacher,
in those days,
didn't think sex...
sex discrimination existed.
Well, one of the things I tried
to plant in their minds was...
think about how you would like
the world to be
for your daughters
and granddaughters.
One of the things that I'm
struck by, as I look back on it,
is how unprepared the defendants
were to fight back.
We won because the strategy was
we won because we were smart
and prepared and we fought hard.
You couldn't miss what Ruth
was doing during the '705.
She was creating
a legal landscape.
She was doing something
that was...
incredibly important
to American women whether
they knew it or not.
Just the thought that I might
catch a glimpse of her is...
l have a mug of her in my room
it says,
- "Herstory in the making."
- l have her sticker
- on my computer!
- | just ordered tons of merch.
Notorious RBG. We're here to get
our books signed.
Shana Knizhnik: I think it's easy
to take for granted
the position that young women
can have in today's society.
And that's a lot in thanks
to Justice Ginsburg's work.
lrin Carmon: Who is more
disdained or told to go away
than an older woman?
But here's an older woman
who people really want to hear
everything that she has to say.
Aaron Saiger: l have been given
questions from the students
about what it's like to be
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- Do you have a smartphone?
- (all laughing)
Yes, the answer is yes.
I had, in fact,
two until they took
the Blackberry away from me
saying, "Nobody uses that
Uh, what do I use it for?
Not for selfies.
(all laughing)
You have said in public
many times,
that the ideal number of women
for the Supreme Court
of the United States is nine.
Yes, of course...
- Saiger: Uh...
- why not?
Nine men was a satisfactory
number until 1981.
But the change in the
federal judiciary as a whole
has been enormous.
But It wasn't until...
Jimmy Carter became president,
he looked around
at the Federal Judiciary,
and he said, "Don't they all
look like me?
But that's not how the great
United States looks."
Edwards: When President Carter
was elected, he said,
"There are almost no women
and there are almost
no African Americans
on the federal bench
and I am determined
to change that. "
Justice Ginsburg and l were two
of the people who benefitted
from that promise.
Ruth was nominated in 1980
and we became colleagues
on the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the DC Circuit.
The law is something
that I think I deal with well.
I don't have the kind of talent
that could make one say
a great opera singer.
(opera singing)
Ruth: Iwanted to be active
in the law.
The law is a consuming, uh, love
for me.
Edwards: When she first started
on the bench,
after we hear cases we go
into a conference room
and the three judges confer
and we think about
how we should decide the cases.
Ruth was sufficiently confident
in herself in the early days.
She would say, "This is
a very straightforward case.
l have a prepared judgment
for us" (laughs)
and this was before we conferred
on the case and initially
we were all taken aback like,
"No wait, wait, Ruth you can't
do that."
She was always right,
the judgments that she had
prepared were right.
But we said, "No, we have to go
(chuckles) through the motions
of talking first before you give
us the result." (chuckles)
Ruth: When I was appointed
to the DC Circuit,
so often people would come up
to me and say, "It must be
hard for you commuting back
and forth to New York."
They couldn't imagine
that a man would leave his work
to follow his... his wife.
He... had been
extraordinarily successful
as a practicing lawyer
in New York.
There were people who would say,
he was the best tax lawyer
in the city of New York
and believe me that is saying
He was...
okay playing second fiddle.
In fact, he would make a joke
of it always, he would say,
"I moved to Washington
because my wife got a good job."
woman: How much advice
do you give each other?
(Marty chuckles)
(audience laughing)
(audience laughing)
Marty was the funny one
in the family and she loved it
and you could see the twinkle
in her eye when he would do
his funny little quips
and jokes.
As a general rule,
my wife does not give me
any advice about cooking
and I do not give her any advice
about the law.
This seems to work quite well
on both sides.
(audience laughing)
My father was very outgoing,
very fun person,
and I think he helped, uh,
temper some of mom's seriousness
at times which I think was
to everybody's benefit.
We used to keep a book called
Mommy Laughed.
Which had parsimonious entries.
(Jim chuckles)
You are giving me
constant advice.
It's starts calling about, uh...
7:00, it's time to come home
for dinner and then 7:30
and somewhere between 7:30
and 9:00, we generally make it.
And the other thing is time
for you to go to sleep.
Those are the daily...
um, that's the daily advice,
that I get.
Well, it's not that bad advice
you have to eat one meal a day
and you have to go to sleep
(audience laughing)
Edwards: He allowed Ruth to be
who she was, that is,
a relatively reserved,
serious person,
who focused on her law work
and loved doing that.
And the relationship was just
magnificent to watch.
Ruth: And when Marty was
starting out in law practice
and eager to make partner,
I was responsible
for the lion's share
of taking care of the home.
But when the women's movement
came alive and Marty appreciated
the importance of the work
I was doing,
then Ibecame the person
whose career came first.
West: What was she like
as a mom?
West: What do you mean by that?
"Do your homework, clean
your room, don't disappoint us."
(both chuckle)
Jim: Helping a lot
with, uh, schoolwork,
commenting, pulling out
the red pen.
Marty Ginsberg: Our dear
daughter Jane, all smiles,
volunteered to the press.
She had grown up in a home
in which responsibility
was equally divided.
Her father did the cooking,
she explained, and her mother
- did the thinking.
- (audience laughing)
West: So is she really
such a horrible cook?
- Yes.
- Jim: Oh yeah.
To this day I still can't eat
after what she did to it.
It wasn't until I was 14
that I encountered
a live vegetable.
Marty: Ruth is no longer
permitted in the kitchen...
(audience laughing)
...this by the demand
of our children, who have taste.
(audience laughing
and applauding)
This is a book that Tata,
he collected letters about me
for my 50th birthday.
- Tata organized a" this.
- It was his idea.
Tata, my... her husband,
my grandfather,
he was especially doting,
so they almost had a bad cop,
good cop relationship,
when it came to the grandkids.
Tata was more often the good cop
I would say,
uh, mostly because Bubbe
was often buried in her work
so if we
really wanted something,
we felt like we could nag Tata
more often for it.
"Dear Ruth,
I have little doubt
that you are proud, rightly so,
of all you have achieved
as a judge
and as a spouse
and a parent as well.
But I conceive no way
you can take
greater pride than I do.
Love, Tata."
- Nice.
- Very nice.
- Do you read these often?
- No, I never read them.
You should they are very nice,
if you ever need a boost
of self-confidence.
So much of the shape of America
is a work of the U.S. Supreme Court
and so the makeup of that Court
is one of the enduring legacies
of a president who has an opportunity
to appoint justices. And tonight
this new president has his first
chance to make it a Clinton Court.
This president has a very clear
idea of what he wants
in this Justice.
Bill Clinton: Ireally did want
to put Governor Cuomo on the court,
but he didn't want to do it
so I started looking around.
He kept moving from his favorite
person of the week
to the next favorite person
of the week
and Judge Ginsburg was sort
of old to be a nominee.
She was in her early 605.
Most people, I think, thought
she was out of the running
for that reason
and Marty was just not gonna
accept that.
Miller: We're talking about Ruth
and we must remember how shy
she was.
I can't think of anyone
less likely to toot her own horn
than Ruth.
So Marty had to play
the New York Philharmonic.
(classical music plays)
Ruth: No question about it,
people who observed
at the time, said,
"Well, Ruth would have been
on a list, maybe she would be 22
or 23 but it was Marty
who made her number one.
He had a little book of people
that he contacted. They were...
Totenberg: He had lots of contacts
in the business community,
lots of contacts in the legal
in the academic community,
among the women she had helped.
And he... I don't even know
all the things he did.
He was so in love with his wife
and so respected her
as a real giant
in the legal profession,
he felt it would be an outrage
if she wasn't seriously
And look, he wasn't the only one
that was campaigning
for somebody to be on the Court.
He had
some pretty stiff opposition...
but it was her interview
that did it.
We arranged for her to come
to the White House.
I wanted to see how her mind
So I engaged her
in this conversation.
And all of a sudden, I wasn't
the President interviewing her
for the Supreme Court anymore,
we were two people having
an honest discussion
about what's the best way
in the moment and for the future
to make law.
Totenberg: Ruth Ginsburg,
as quiet and kind of withdrawn
and almost timid as she can be
she is a performer
and she walked in that room
and he fell for her.
Literally, within 15 minutes,
I decided
l was going to name her.
(people applauding)
Clinton: I'm proud to nominate
this path-breaking attorney,
advocate, and judge to be
the 107th Justice
to the
United States Supreme Court.
Ruth: When I was nominated
back in 1993,
Senator Biden chaired
the committee.
The leading Republican
member was Orrin Hatch.
man: Do you have
any concerns right now?
There are always concerns
because these are very important
And so there will be a lot
of questions asked.
Day two of the Ruth Bader
Ginsburg confirmation hearings.
Judge Ginsburg did something
no recent High Court nominee
has done, spoke at length
about her support
for abortion rights.
It is essential
to women's equality with man...
that her choice... that she be
the decision maker.
This is something central
to a woman's...
life, to her dignity.
And when Government controls
that decision for her,
she is being treated as less
than a fully adult...
human responsible for...
her own choices.
She was put on the court
by a liberal president,
uh, as a liberal justice.
And that's the way this country
Orrin Hatch: I disagree with you
on a number of things,
and I am sure you disagree
with me.
But that isn't the issue, is it?
And frankly, I admire you.
You've earned the right,
in my opinion,
to be on the Supreme Court.
She was confirmed 96-3.
Now, you could argue that it was
not as partisan a time
as it is now
but it was pretty partisan.
News Anchor: Promising to defend
the Constitution,
pioneering women's rights
advocate Ruth Bader Ginsburg
has been sworn in as the second
on the U.S.
Supreme Court bench.
I will well and faithfully
The duties of the office
on which I am about to enter.
- So help me God.
- So help me God.
(people applauding)
Peratis: It was extremely
exciting because this
powerful little woman was going
on the Supreme Court,
and that meant there were going
to be two.
The standard robe is made
for a man,
because it has a place for the
shirt to show and the tie.
So Sandra Day O'Connor and I,
thought it would be appropriate
if we included as part
of our robe,
something typical of a woman.
During my long tenure here,
I was not
the most quote, liberal justice
on the court.
From the beginning, I think
what she was looking for
was to build consensus.
Even though Chief Justice
and Sandra Day O'Connor were
conservative justices.
They were still justices
with which,
Ginsburg was able to find
common ground.
That was her style.
She really wanted to be able
to convince her fellow justices
to move her
way even if it means
conceding certain things
and compromising.
To start out, I thought
you might like to know
a little about the gentlemen
who are surrounding us.
These are the first set
of Chief Justices
of the Supreme Court.
John Marshall is the 4th chief
justice and what he said was,
that this Constitution
is the highest law of the land.
The 14th amendment has a clause
that you all should know about
and I'll read it to you.
It says...
"And nor shall any state deny
to any person
the equal protection
of the laws."
So if Congress passes a law
or the president issues
an executive order
that is in conflict
with the constitution,
the constitution must prevail.
VMI was a 150-year-old,
all-male military college.
It had a tremendous endowment,
well-connected alumni,
four star generals.
When you came out of VMI
that was something.
Bryant Gumbel: Virginia Military
Institute was the last
all-male state supported school
in the country.
157 years of school tradition
as an all-male military academy.
Ted Olson: Boys can be troublesome,
full of hormones and so forth,
and I don't mean to make general
gender characteristics
or generalizations here
but for some young men,
at that time of their life
they need discipline,
they need hard work
and they need
not a lot of extra time
to get into trouble.
And VMI provided that.
man: Look at the men
which stand before you!
They represent the essence
of VMI!
A female high school student
wanted to attend VMI.
So she brought a case against
Virginia, claiming that
the all-male admissions policy
violated equal protection.
It actually went
from the District Court
to the Appellate Court before
it came up to the Supreme Court.
This was an extremely important
case for Justice Ginsburg.
It was her first women's rights
case on the Supreme Court.
Court Officer: The Honorable
Chief Justice
and the Associate Justices
of the Supreme Court
of the United States.
(gavel strikes)
Olson: Iwas very much aware
of Justice Ginsburg '3 history
with respect to gender excluding
women from an institution.
I was very much aware of that
and I was trying to fashion
an argument that would penetrate
l was dealing with a very
worthy and formidable force
at the other side of that bench.
That was my pitch. As you know
it didn't work.
Chief Justice Rehnquist:
...to aspire, achieve,
participate in, and contribute
to society...
based on what they can do.
News Anchor: The for-men only
tradition of VMI became history
with the arrival of women
entering as first year cadets.
man: Cadre, take charge
of your rats.
Kelly Sullivan: Iwas in
the first class of women.
We were here not to break
tradition not to ruin history
but to help grow it.
For those four years I worked
extremely hard,
to be the best person
I could be
and to represent women
as a whole.
I wanted to be that person
that stood in front of the men
and said, "I can do it, too. "
General Peay:
It's most appropriate
that we welcome today
a member of our nation's highest
court, a notable example
of a citizen with a lifelong
dedication to public service,
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
- (audience cheering)
- Thank you.
- General Peay: Welcome
the Virginia Military Institute.
VMI fought very hard to keep
women out.
Ihad an alumni walk up to me,
and he says,
"I'm not going to shake
your hand. I want to know
why you're here,
um, and why you
decided to ruin my school."
I know that there were some
people who did not...
react well to the change
and my response to this was,
"Wait and see, you will be proud
of the women
who become graduates of VMI."
(audience applauding)
It wasn't just about VMI,
it was about the notion
that you cannot exclude women
just because they're women.
You cannot say categorically,
"They can't handle this."
It's way beyond VMI,
way beyond.
And she pulled some
of the Justices of that court
over to see that you start,
you start with an assumption
that you have got to treat
both genders equally.
Feigen: That majority opinion,
was the culmination of Ruth's
dedication to the concept
of equality for women.
Ruth: Those are current cadets.
One wanted to be a nuclear
scientist, the others engineers.
All very well adjusted to life
at VMI.
So, you can see...
many varieties there are more up
on top.
This is the latest one
I've gotten.
West: So people just send them
to you?
What's in this one?
Oh this one was given to me
by the University of Hawaii,
with French lace...
and the beads are
from the beach.
It is a gift from law clerks,
a few terms back.
And this is what I use...
for announcing majority opinion.
And this one is for dissenting
(camera shutter clicking)
Ruth: Every day before we sit
in the Court,
the first thing we do is,
we go around the room
each Justice shaking hands
with every other.
We know that collegiality
is very important
to the effective working
of the court.
So we better respect each other
and even like each other.
She did something I'm not sure
I could have done,
she made real friendship
with Scalia.
Totenberg: They are the leading voice
of opposite points of views
the United States Supreme Court.
Why don't you call us,
the Odd Couple?
(audience laughing)
- He is a very funny fellow.
- She is a very nice person,
she likes opera, what's not
to like?
Except her views of
the law of course.
(audience laughing)
Helen Alvare: Justice Scalia believes
that one should read
the constitution according
to its plain language,
according to the meanings
that were ascribed, uh,
to those words when those words
were enacted.
But you're saying is,
let's try to figure out
the mindset of people back
200 years ago, right?
Well, it isn't the mindset,
it's what did the words mean
to the people who ratified
the Bill of Rights
or who ratified
the Constitution.
As opposed to what people today
think it meant?
As opposed to what people today
would like.
I see the constitution,
as striving for
a more perfect union.
Who were We the People in 1787?
You would not be among
We the People,
African Americans would not be
among the people.
Gene Scalia: She's this
supposed famous liberal,
he's this supposed famous
She's a Jewish, he's, uh,
She's retiring at times,
and he almost never is.
And yet as with many great
friendships there's chemistry
that maybe you can't entirely
That's thing about Ruth
is that she can compartmentalize
better than I do. She is able
to have a close friend
who had these outrageous views,
about women and about gays
and lesbians.
I have a little bit of trouble
with that.
I don't have close friends
who are right wing nutcases.
Even though they had
differing points of view,
they were dear friends.
I'm sure they were...
pecking at each other
the whole time.
But they kind of enjoyed it.
Ruth: Justice Scalia would
whisper something to me.
All I could do to avoid
laughing out loud,
so I would sometimes pinch
People sometimes ask me,
"Well, what was your favorite
Scalia joke?" And I said,
"I know what it is,
but I can't tell you."
(audience laughing)
They enjoyed going to the operas
and they enjoyed discussing
particular operas
and of course, they appeared
together in an opera.
Totenberg: What's the most fun thing
you've ever done together?
Was it being on that elephant
together in India?
Ruth: That was a rather
bumpy ride.
Antonin Scalia: Some of her feminist
friends gave her a hard time
because she rode behind me
on the elephant.
(all laughing)
- And that's wha...
- I'm not kidding.
It... it was... the driver
explained it was a matter
of distribution of weight.
(audience laughing)
Washington has a reputation
as being a hard town
to make good friendships.
And the Supreme Court itself
is a place where your colleagues
on any given case are also
your adversaries.
It was very gratifying to see
the two of them together
and know that they had
their disagreements
but that my father had
this just really wonderful friend.
Peter Jennings: The presidential
election is over.
George Bush prevails by one
vote in the Supreme Court.
George, this effectively ends
the election.
It has ended the election
and Peter, literally
one of the closest elections
in American history.
600 votes approximately
separated Gore and Bush
in the state of Florida,
and now by one vote
on the Supreme Court,
this election is over.
Look at the dissents
and the strong language
in the dissents.
Justice Ginsburg,
"The Court's conclusion
that a recount is impractical,
is a prophecy
the Court's own judgment
will not allow to be tested.
Such an untested prophecy..."
...should not decide
the presidency
of the United States.
I dissent.
Carmon: She was never supposed
to be the great dissenter
but that's the course
that history took her on.
George W. Bush was able
to appoint two Justices.
The addition of Samuel Alito
and John Roberts on the Court
pushed it far to the right.
Frelinghuysen: The role of an
individual Justice
can change dramatically
as the court changes.
With the departure
of Justice O'Connor
and with more conservatives
joining the bench.
She found she had to really
exercise her dissenting voice.
Ruth: Of course I prefer to be
in the majority
but if necessary...
I will write separately
in dissent.
Lilly Ledbetter:
I went to work one night
and someone had left me a note.
It had my name and three men.
We four had the exact same job.
My pay was 40 percent less
than theirs.
I had been shortchanged
for no other reason
than I had been born
the wrong sex, l was a woman.
The jury found that I had been
discriminated against
but of course, Goodyear appealed
and then we were notified
that we would be heard
in the Supreme Court.
Ilooked at the court makeup,
that's when Justice Alito
had just gone on the bench.
Justice Ginsburg at the time
was the only female left.
Justice Alito read the opinion,
he said, "I was definitely
discriminated against but I had
not filed my charge timely,
that I'd waited too late
to file my charge."
Justice Alito:
She's hit the nail on the head
because she definitely said,
"They do not know what it's like
in the real world."
Ruth: Today, the ball again lies
in Congress' court...
"...to correct the error into
which the Court has fallen."
She was laying down a marker
for Congress and in fact
federal law was changed
because of her dissent.
Three fifths of the Senators
having voted in the affirmative,
the bill has passed.
Barack Obama: It is fitting that
the very first bill that | sign,
the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay
Restoration Act is upholding
one of this nation's
founding principles...
that we are all created equal...
and each deserve a chance
to pursue
our own version of happiness.
(people applauding)
Marty: Ruth and I were
in New York City
to see the play Proof.
And as we walked down the aisle
to our seats,
what seemed like the entire
audience began to applaud,
many stood, Ruth beamed.
I beamed too, leaned over
and whispered loudly, "I bet
you didn't know
there's a convention
of tax lawyers in town."
(audience laughing)
Well, without changing
her bright smile,
Ruth smacked me right
in the stomach.
Igive you this picture
because it fairly captures
our nearly 50-year
happy marriage.
During which I've offered up
an astonishing number of foolish
pronouncements and Ruth has
ignored almost every one.
(audience laughing)
Well, I think part of the time
when he was sick,
she was in denial.
He just became weaker
and weaker.
The way people get sick when
they're close to dying, but...
she somehow knew how to turn off
those tear ducts in public.
She steeled herself for it.
Ruth: Ifound this letter...
next to Marty's bed
in the hospital.
"My dearest Ruth,
you are the only person
Ihave loved in my life,
setting aside a bit parents
and kids and their kids.
What a treat it has been
to watch you progress
to the very top
of the legal world.
Ihave admired and loved you
almost since the day
we first met at Cornell,
some 56 years ago.
The time has come for me
to take leave of life...
because the loss of quality...
now simply overwhelms.
Ihope you will support
where I come out...
and I understand you may not.
I will not love you...
a jot less. "
Marty: We met on a blind date
in 1950.
The truth is it was a blind
date only on Ruth's side.
- (Marty chuckling)
- (audience laughing)
- Marty: Icheated. (laughing)
- (audience laughing)
Marty: Iasked a classmate
to point her out in advance.
"Oh, ho, she's really cute, "
I perceptively noticed.
And then after a couple
of evenings out, I, uh, added,
"And boy she's really,
really smart."
In the intervening 53 years,
nothing changed.
Where are we headed?
We're headed
to these outdoor sculptures,
and all the sculptures are done
by contemporary
Spera: After a period
of very justified mourning,
she sort of relaunched herself,
into her work
and filled the time
that she would have spent
with my grandfather, with work
both to distract herself I think
from his absence but also
to honor him.
woman: This is her son, James,
and this is her grandson...
Toten berg: Marty was her life.
And her children
and grandchildren who
have a life of their own.
She's very much interested
in arts
and loves to go
to those things.
And then she goes home
at the end of the evening
and works until four
in the morning.
These two pieces here
are by a Creek artist.
Ruth: And what is she called,
that one?
Tour guide: She's called
a woman warrior.
Any kind of battle you bring
to her, she's ready for it.
It's considered one of the most
important pieces
of civil rights legislation
ever passed,
but by 5-4
the U.S. Supreme Court today,
took the teeth out of a law
enacted nearly 50 years ago.
Reporter: Voting rights act has
policed voting discrimination
but today's decision
effectively puts it on hold.
Reporter 2: Chief Justice,
John Roberts,
summarized his opinion
with four telling words,
"Our country has changed."
John Roberts:
"...is like throwing away
your umbrella...
in a rainstorm...
because you are not getting
She called out the majority
and said this makes zero sense.
The entire reason that racial
discrimination in voting
is not happening is because
we have this very important law.
I was righteously angry
right alongside with her.
Her dissent was the introduction
for many young people
about how important the court is
to our everyday lives.
I just pulled up Photoshop
and did the design
in like 15 minutes.
Amina Sow: Icame up
with a couple slogans
but the one that kept coming
back to me was,
"You Can't Spell Truth
without Ruth."
Knizhnik: A friend of mine
posted on Facebook saying,
"Wow! Justice Ginsburg,
sure can write. #NotoriousRBG."
So Istarted a Tumblr
and I called it Notorious RBG.
Notre Dame: She is known to fans
the world over as,
The Notorious RBG.
Biggie Smalls: This album
is dedicated to all the teachers
that told me I'd never amount
to nothing.
I do know where
the Notorious RBG came from.
It... it was the rapper
the Notorious B.I.G.
J Remember Rappin' Duke
Duh-ha, duh-ha J
J You never thought that hip hop
would take it this far J
People ask me, "Don't you feel
uncomfortable being
with a name
like Notorious B. | .G?"
(audience laughing)
Um... why should I feel
We have a lot in common.
(audience laughing
and applauding)
First and foremost...
we were both born and bred
in Brooklyn, New York.
Sow: Young people are really
different kinds of icons.
Realizing that somebody
like RBG
has been doing herjob
for decades
and being forceful
and speaking truth to power
kind of blows my mind.
Don Lemon: A big win
for conservatives
in the Hobby Lobby case.
Roberts: Justice Ginsburg
has filed a dissenting opinion.
We were all so hungry to hear
from Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Every time Justice Ginsburg
wrote a dissent,
the internet would explode.
man 1: Justice Ginsburg
has filed a dissenting opinion.
man 2: Justice Ginsburg has
filed a dissenting opinion.
Ruth: My dissenting opinion.
I dissent.
Dissent from today's decision.
Carmon: You just had to put
the words Ruth Bader Ginsburg
into something and then it
would get shared compulsively.
Totenberg: She's become such
a rock star and she enjoys it.
To see
people wear
Notorious RBG t-shirts
or other paraphernalia
with her face on it.
It's weird honestly.
She gives her RBG t-shirts
to people.
Edwards: She called and laughed
did you get the birthday gift?
I said I did I'm wearing it.
- Tattoos! Yeah.
- Lots of tattoos.
Carmon: Ihad a picture
of one of the tattoos
and I showed it to her
and she goes "Uh!
Why would you do something
so permanent?"
Here now to comment
is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
(audience cheering)
Alright! Justice coming in hot.
I'm ready to rumble
Mayweather, Pacquiao style.
I float like a butterfly,
sting like a bee,
I clean myself like a fly.
(audience laughing)
Jim: It's so unlike mom,
but I don't think mom...
an accurate imitation of mom
would be that funny. (laughs)
Betsy: Do you think
she watches them?
I don't think she ever has
watched television.
Yeah, I'm not sure she knows
how to turn on...
No, no, she watches the NewsHour
while she's working out.
Yeah, but that's at the court,
does she know how to turn on
- the television at home?
- I don't think so.
Here to explain is Supreme Court
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Is this Saturday Night Live?
I like my men like I like
my decisions: 5-4. (gasps)
That's a third degree Ginsburn!
(audience laughing)
It's marvelously funny.
How did they...
Julie Cohen:
Remind you of yourself?
Not one bit.
Except for the collar.
What about the State
of the Union
where you were caught sleeping?
No, I wasn't sleeping
I was just giving in
to the weight of my glasses.
Spera: Watching the State
of the Union
and I notice that her head
is drooping a little bit
and she might have dozed off
for about a minute or two.
After that happened,
I called her up and said,
"You know, Bubbe,
you were asleep
during the State of the Union,
you can't do that."
Totenberg: You went to the State of
the Union and you fell asleep.
(audience laughing)
As I often do.
The audience for the most part
is awake,
because they're bobbing up
and down all the time...
and we sit there, stone faced...
soberjudges. But we're not...
at least I wasn't,
a hundred percent sober.
(audience laughing)
Toten berg: She does look vulnerable,
she is this tiny little person
and that is somehow in contrast
with being
the ferocious defender
of minorities and women and...
certain kinds of ideals.
There's always I think
the concern that can she
- continue to keep up this pace?
- Well, she's now been through
two different types of cancer
without missing a day
on the bench.
Ruth: I had my first cancer
bout 1999,
colorectal cancer.
It was the year
of first surgery
and then chemotherapy.
Ten years later,
Ihad pancreatic cancer.
I think what it has left me
an enhanced appreciation
of the joys of being alive.
What I need you to do
is just grab them and just pull.
- Just standing up straight?
- Just pull, don't lean back.
Good, just pull, pull, okay?
Arch that back. Good.
- This is light.
- I know, I know,
I got a heavier one.
Since it's too light,
I got a heavier one
Bryant Johnson: I started
training Justice Ginsburg
back in 1999.
She had just come out
of chemotherapy
and she wanted to build muscle
and get stronger.
She's like a cyborg.
And when Isay cyborg,
she's like a machine.
J ("Queen of the Night" Plays) J
Lean back. Good, yeah,
and pull yourself up.
Exactly. Good.
Alright, bring chest down
to the ball, good.
They're real push-ups right,
they're not girl push-ups.
No, th... they are...
very real, yes.
Helsel: I've heard
that she's does 20 push-ups,
three times a week or something.
I mean, we can't even get off
the floor we can't even get down
to the floor.
That's true.
Ruth: I always feel better
no matter how tired I am,
at the end of that hour,
I'm ready to go again.
She definitely embodies
the larger than life nature
of the "Notorious" title...
more and more as she gets older.
She's become much more public,
much more vocal.
Especially in a time
when our politics
are just so garbage.
Reporter 1: Justice Ruth Bader
Ginsburg spoke fearfully
of a Donald Trump presidency.
Reporter 2: An unusually candid
political outpouring
- calling Trump a "Faker. "
- Justice Ginsburg, uh,
made some very,
very inappropriate...
statements toward me.
I was flabbergasted.
It surprised me that she would
comment in a derogatory way
about any candidate
for president. It's...
it's inappropriate.
It's not just a matter
of decorum...
it's a matter of her
not understanding
her constitutional role.
She has just come out and issued
an apology.
You released a statement
that read, "Judges should avoid
commenting on a candidate
for public office."
But do you really regret
the substance of what you said?
I think in the best,
the wisest course would have
been to say nothing.
Is it wrong
for Supreme Court Justices to...
uh, to occasionally make
a mistake? No.
They're human beings
and she's a human being
and she apologized for it.
It is quite possible that many,
many executive orders
or other things that a president
has supported or done
are going to come before
the Supreme Court
and that now we have a sitting
justice indicating,
that the person
has a deep antipathy,
uh, against the lawmaker.
The notion that l...
I don't comprehend
that myjob...
is to interpret
the law fairly...
that I'm going to vote
one way...
based on who I might have voted
for President is just...
None of us...
even if we wanted to...
could be successful
if that's the attitude
that we had.
Robert Longbottom:
You look marvelous.
Knowing that we were opening
on the Saturday
after the election,
I wanted somebody who was
a Washington insider
to play the Duchess
of Krakenthorp.
"The best of the House
of Krakenthorp..."
Ruth: There are very few operas
that have speaking parts
and the Duchess of Krackenthorp
is one such part. So I wrote...
basically my own lines
for the Duchess of Krackenthorp.
(opera music playing)
"The best of the House
of Krakenthorp
have open, but not empty minds.
No surprise then that the most
valorous Krakenthorpians
have been women!"
(audience cheering)
"A lady Krackenthorp at all
times must conduct herself
with dignity and grace.
We now request certain
essential documents.
Have you brought your niece's
birth certificate?"
(audience laughing and cheering)
(speaks in French:)
"Ours is a family
wildly trumpeted,
(audience laughing and cheering)
Justice Ginsburg,
I think everyone expected you
to retire soon. I mean,
you're 83.
Yeah, you're damn right. I was
gonna retire. Ugh! But not now.
Not now, now I gotta stay
alive and healthy.
Damn it. Give me my thing.
Excuse me, I gotta take
my vitamins.
- (audience laughing)
- Colin Jost: Oh my God, that's...
(audience cheering and laughing)
Jost: ...that's...
that's a packet.
Totenberg: Justice Ginsburg,
let me ask you a tough question.
There were liberals who publicly
urged you to retire, uh...
two or three years ago,
so that President Obama
could name a replacement.
Any second thoughts
about not doing that?
I have said many times
that I will...
do this job...
as long as I can do it
full steam...
and when I can't...
that will be the time,
I will step down.
Miller: She has found her voice
on the court.
She is a center of power...
on the court and off the court.
Totenberg: When
the history books are written,
an enormous amount
will be about
what she did as a very young
Peratis: There would not
have been the legal status
of women today had it not been
for her work in the '70s.
She changed everything.
Ruth: The gender line helps
to keep women not on a pedestal
but in a cage
Ruth's work made me feel
as if I was protected
by the U.S. Constitution
for the first time.
Ruth: Men and women are persons
of equal dignity
and they should count equally
before the law.
She may be small but she's got
a firm backbone.
Carmon: It's been a long road
for her
and she's fought really hard
all the way down it.
She's not done fighting.
Ruth: Looking back over
my long life.
Yes, we may be
in trying times...
but think how it was.
Ruth: When I went to college...
there was a big Red Scare
in our country.
Some people in our Congress saw
a Communist in every closet
and in every corner.
But it impressed me,
that there were lawyers
reminding our Congress
that we have freedom of speech
and of the press.
So I thought that that was
a pretty good thing to do...
to help keep our country
in tune
with its most
basic values.
Now is the busiest season
for the court.
All dissenting opinions
have to be...
And I have a few of those
still to go.
One of the world's greatest
jurists, Judge Learned Hand...
said, "That the spirit
of liberty that imbues
our Constitution must lie first
and foremost in the hearts
of the men and women who compose
this great nation...
a community where the least
shall be heard and considered
side by side with the greatest.
I will keep that wisdom
in the front of my mind
as long as I am capable
of judicial service."
Court Officer: Oyez, oyez, oyez,
the court is now sitting.
(gavel strikes)
I When you feel
you've taken all you can take J
J And you're sure you're never
gonna catch a break J
J And your tears are rivers
running down your face J
J Yeah J
J When your faith is low J
J And you've got no
strength left J
I When you think you've gone
as far as you can get J
J And you're too run down
to take another step J
J Oh, I will take up
the struggle J
J Oh, Iknow it's a fight J
J So I'll fight I
J Fight that one for you J
I I'll fight J
J Stand and defend you J
J Take your side J
J That's what I'm here to do J
J I'll be there to be strong J
J Oh, I 'II keep on,
keep on the fight I
I When this day just takes
another piece of you J
J Everybody takes
all they can get from you J
J 'Til you're left with
almost nothing left of you J
J When each night is like
a battle you can't win I
J And the pain is like
a weight you're carrying J
J I will be the one
to help you carry it J
J I will take
all your troubles J
J Oh, Iknow it's a fight J
I So I'll fight I
J Fight that one for you J
I I'll fight I
J Stand and defend you J
J Take your side J
J That's what I'm here to do J
J I'll be there to be strong J
J Oh, I 'II keep on,
keep on the fight I
I I'll have your back
when your back's to the wall J
I I'll catch your tears
when your tears fall J
J I will give it all
I won't give up the fight J
I So, I'll fight I
J Fight that war for you J
I I'll fight I
J Stand and defend you
Take your side J
J That's what I'm here to do J
J I'll be there to be strong J
J Oh, I 'II keep on,
keep on I 'II fight I
J Fight that war for you
I 'II fight I
J Stand and defend you
Take your side J
J Take your side, take your side
That's what I'm here to do J
J I'll be there to be strong J