File Name: Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life's Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union
Author : Ruth Bader Ginsburg , Amanda L. Tyler
ISBN : 9780520381926
Format : Hardcover 288 pages
Genre : Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Politics, Biography, History, Biography Memoir, Law, Social Movements, Social Justice, Womens,
Rating: it was amazing
[Happy Women's History Month!]
2020 was quite the year (a huge understatement). It seemed like our lives were in upheaval from many directions all at once—from COVID-19 shutting everything down (and when “essential” organizations reopened, changing their way of operation) to whole continents and states literally being on fire. Amidst all this societal upheaval, the legal world was rocked by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September from complications of cancer, a figure who seemed invincible, having survived many previous encounters with cancer before and returning to work as soon as she could each time.
This perceived invincibility and relentless pursuit of justice for the many is a central part of both her life and legal career as surveyed in Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life’s Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union (2021), a joint project by Ginsburg and her former law clerk, Amanda Tyler. While focusing primarily on Justice Ginsburg’s progressive legal philosophy informed by her upbringing, education, and previous role as a women’s rights advocate where she had to fight an uphill battle against seemingly insurmountable systemically-embedded gender discrimination, this book gives readers a more comprehensive view of Ruth Bader Ginsburg the person as well.
While reading around the many legal citations in Ginsburg’s written opinions (with some of the more notable ones being her dissents) was a bit challenging at times, the persistent reader is rewarded with not only an appreciation of Ginsburg’s formidable intellect, but also her effectiveness at making her case with the prescient marshalling of evidence of the real-world consequences of laws and the legal philosophies and precedents at hand that informed them, that the justices and legal scholars tended to discuss in the abstract.
This approach led to groundbreaking changes to address gendered discrimination in many aspects of the law by revealing how this kind of discrimination is detrimental to both women and men. The results of these legal decisions laid the groundwork for the greater freedoms women are gaining in the public sphere and which those of my generation can take for granted. I was fortunate not to grow up knowing a world in which women had to fight tooth-and-nail to merely get their feet in the door. Not that gendered or racial discrimination are dead. That work continues to this day to combat pernicious and more subtle forms of the latter systemic evils by working to open that door further for women and people of color.
That’s the message I think Ginsburg was trying to convey here. I can’t help but feel she is handing me (and many others) the baton, that she is saying, “It’s your turn now.”
RIP Justice Ginsburg. You will be missed.
See also: My Own Words (2016) by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2015), and Conversations with RBG: Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life, Love, Liberty, and Law (2020).
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Rating: really liked it
It looks like I'm the first person to add this to my Goodreads, so I just came here to say thank you so much to Justice Ginsburg for a life's work of fighting and bringing others to join her along the way. I'm about to graduate law school this year from Justice Ginsburg's alma mater and I'm eager to follow in her tiny and big footsteps by trying to make the union just a little more perfect. Looking forward to reading this book once it comes out (or if anyone wants to send me an advanced copy . . . I would be thrilled to provide a real review!)
Rating: really liked it
4 stars. RTC.