RBG

Directed by documentarians Julie Cohen and Betsy West, RBG is an engrossing documentary with unprecedented access that chronicles the truly remarkable life of the 85-year-old Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Especially during today’s trying political climate, the soft-spoken Justice Ginsburg and her still acute legal mind that tends to fall on the liberal side has become a hero for those on the left. As a result of her powerful dissenting opinions championing progressive ideals, she has morphed into a pop culture icon who is even referred to as The Notorious RBG named after the popular rapper The Notorious BIG. The in-depth film does a terrific job of contextualizing Justice Ginsburg by presenting her legal life beginning with being one of only a few women at Harvard Law School, through her largely underappreciated role as an early legal figure for gender equality, and finally her career as a Supreme Court Justice known for her incisive judgments. Not many people know that she argued in front of the Supreme Court and won several cases in favor of women’s rights at the height of the women’s liberation movement. The filmmakers also delve into her personal life, especially her loving relationship with her now deceased husband Martin Ginsburg who always supported her even as he had his own legal career. Especially rare for the publicly reserved members of the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg is herself interviewed throughout the documentary as she gives a first-hand account of her life. She is further humanized as we even get to see her interact with her children and grandchildren. Although it is obviously biased in favor of Justice Ginsburg and her traditionally liberal views, the movie also depicts her as a revered non-partisan legal thinker who generally has the respect of her conservative counterparts. For instance, it touches on her friendly relationship with the recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia despite their polar opposite views on most legal matters before the Court. Overall, I found it to be a well-crafted documentary that provides important insight into one of the most important political and legal figures of our time and should be viewed even if you do not support Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s clearly liberal positions.

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