You're likely familiar with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the feminist octogenarian of the judicial branch, who in recent years has emerged as an inspiringly woke, albeit Polly Pocket–size, icon to an ardent fan base. But what do you really know about her? RBG, a spirited documentary (out now) directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen, and co-produced by Storyville Films and CNN Films, fills in the gaps. Weaving together archival footage and interviews with intimates such as Ginsburg's son and daughter and friends like Gloria Steinem and Bill Clinton, the film tells the unimaginable tale of a shy Brooklynite who rose to the nation's highest court. You'll laugh, you'll cry—you may just decide to go to law school.

Ginsburg's official portrait taken for her appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980. Photos: Courtesy of Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The film illuminates Ginsburg's steadfast and lifelong commitment to equality. As a cofounder of the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s, she wanted to establish legal protections against gender discrimination. Her hurdle: the nine men on the Supreme Court, who didn't think sexism was a thing. So she attacked laws that hurt both women and men. The strategy paid off, with Ginsburg winning five of the six discrimination cases she argued before the Supreme Court.

Vacationing with her children, Jane and James, in 1979.

Come for the history lesson, stay for the glimpses into the justice's private affairs: her grinding life as a Harvard law student (she was one of only nine women in a class of 500-plus) and mother of a toddler; her enviable 56-year partnership with her late husband, Marty (prepare to marvel at their foxy younger selves); her night owl habits (Ginsburg still works until 3 or 4 a.m.); her jaunty jabots, including styles for delivering blistering dissents (a beaded velvet bib necklace) and majority opinions (a pink and yellow crocheted collar); her reaction to Kate McKinnon's Saturday Night Live impression of her (it's a playful Gins-burn); and, even at age 85, her workout in a "super diva" sweatshirt.

A warm embrace with Marty in 2003.

What can't the justice do? Cook. At all. "Ruth is no longer permitted in the kitchen," Marty told a group at a law conference in 2003. "This [is] by demand of our children, who have taste." Hey, every superhero has her weakness.


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