Now in her mid-80s, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is enjoying a bit of late-in-life rockstar status. Much of this has to do with her shuffling more toward liberalism after George W Bush appointed two conservative justices during his presidential tenure (Ginsburg was decidedly more moderate in her rulings beforehand) and the subsequent numerous dissenting opinions she's filed, such as against the 2014 one that found crafts mega-corp Hobby Lobby wouldn't need to take reproductive health into account within its employee health coverage. Regardless, she's come to be known as a bit of a badass and an icon not just for feminism, but fighting for what's morally right. American history fans are no doubt aware of Ginsburg's track record dating back to the 1970s when, as a lawyer, she first argued before the Supreme Court and worked to turn the tide for women in this country.
About time, then, that she'd become the focus of a documentary—and a damn fine one at that. In RBG, from documentarians Julie Cohen and Betsy West, we finally get the full picture. It's a tale of breaking boundaries and emotional resonance wherein Ginsburg proves to be not only a staunch ally to women, but to men, people of color and indeed the American underdog. Through interviews with friends, family, former clients and current colleagues, a sense of deep admiration from both sides of the aisle emerges proving that even those who might disagree with Ginsburg can't help but be drawn to her grace and enamored with her style and accomplishments. We also see a broad overview of a number of cases she presided over and how she handled them.
She is funny and composed, an avid arts and opera fan who seemingly never tires and takes seriously her charge to work for the American people. For Ginsburg, we learn (or re-learn) that the job is never about partisanship or special interests; it's about helping to shape the country in a way that is mutually beneficial for all.
She's not naive, however, and plans to continue the fight, she says, "so long as she can go at it full-steam." There are no signs of stopping, and it's endlessly inspiring and amusing to observe her boom within pop culture.
Be warned, however, that some of the content may drive one mad—from the shamelessly one-sided ideology of old white men and pervasive lack of equality in America, to the level to which Ginsburg has constantly had to rise in order to prove herself. Tirelessly. Again and again.
Still, we're glad to know she's still out there crusading, and we can only hope RBG is shown to everyone—particularly young people—for a long time to come.
The Santa Fe chapter of the National Organization for Women hosts a screening, followed by a panel discussion of women in law, on Thursday (6 pm. $12. Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, 982-1338).
+Fascinating and important
-Some interviews feel superfluous
Directed by Cohen and West
Center for Contemporary Arts, Violet Crown, PG, 98 min.