Reading My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg is like dipping my toe into the world of judges and legal briefs. It’s a marginally vast compilation of lectures, briefs, interviews, and other writings from the Supreme Court Justice. They begin early in life—with a school newspaper editorial—and include items as late as the highlights from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015-2016 term. There’s plenty of range here!
And yet, because Justice Ginsburg had specific causes there are many repetitions. In one lecture she discusses several cornerstone cases in her field of expertise—gender discrimination. And then some years later, she touches on the same cases again in light of newer court decisions and other societal changes.
Alongside the legal details, Ginsburg also includes her beloved husband Marty’s remarks introducing her at a meeting. It’s quite dear, actually. She also gives talks to honor people who played a big part in her life—Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and even a short introduction of Gloria Steinem.
I certainly learned a great deal about the inner workings of the Supreme Court, including elements of Ginsburg’s trademark collegiality. In fact, a few of the talks cover this topic, which is particularly interesting in this time of extreme polarization. As a balance, Ginsburg also includes a talk on ‘The Role of Dissenting Opinions.” Of course, in her later years on the Court, she was revered for her ability to dissent both respectfully and incisively.
My Own Words is considerably heavier than Notorious RBG because its contents were often directed at lawyers. Where Notorious developed from social media, My Own Words is a more scholarly combination of information. Still, to hear RBG talk about her life and the life of other esteemed judges deepened my understanding of the law.
Although I bought the e-book several years ago, when I actually started this I listened to the audiobook. And it was fabulous to learn that the author and her collaborators used actual audio of Ginsburg wherever possible. Hearing her words in her voice was even better.
I recommend this book if you’re curious about landmark legal decisions, the realities of a career in the law, or the life of this famous Justice. Because of the details it’s not a quick read, however I think you’ll find it meaningful.
Pair with Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, for more about what makes each gender unique. Or try it with a memoir from another groundbreaking woman, Hillary Rodham Clinton.