Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg: The Case of R.B.G. Vs. Inequality

Jon­ah Win­ter; Sta­cy Innerst, illus.
  • Review
By – August 18, 2017

Art­ful­ly writ­ten and inter­est­ing­ly illus­trat­ed, this biog­ra­phy tells the sto­ry of the first Jew­ish woman Supreme Court jus­tice. Writ­ten with sub­tle emo­tion and feel­ing, it is like­ly to bring tears to the eye of an adult read­er shar­ing it with a child.

The nar­ra­tor, a young attor­ney, presents R. B. G.’s life as a court case and shares the facts with the jury’ of read­ers. This jury hears of the future jurist’s dif­fi­cult child­hood and how, despite her bril­liance, she was dis­cour­aged by her father from pur­su­ing her dreams. Her moth­er, how­ev­er, sup­port­ed her edu­ca­tion and squir­reled away mon­ey for Ruth to attend col­lege. The sto­ry is sprin­kled with human­iz­ing facts about the future Jus­tice: that she liked books about mythol­o­gy – and Nan­cy Drew mys­ter­ies”, that she chipped her tooth as a baton twirler in high school, that she stud­ied in the bath­room in col­lege so the boys wouldn’t see her, and oth­er exam­ples of her stead­fast determination.

The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequal­i­ty con­tin­ues as evi­dence is intro­duced. Exhibits” are cre­ative­ly depict­ed on var­i­ous legal pads and the accom­pa­ny­ing text explains the many exam­ples of dis­crim­i­na­tion Ruth faced both as a woman and as a Jew. As the sto­ry con­tin­ues, the jury learns that R.B.G. over­came anti-Semi­tism and misog­y­ny, win­ning the right for women to have equal pro­tec­tion of the laws”, becom­ing only the sec­ond woman in his­to­ry to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals and, ulti­mate­ly, the first Jew­ish woman to serve as a Jus­tice on the Supreme Court.

The case clos­es by explain­ing that Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg did not set out to change the world, but that because of her intel­li­gence, per­se­ver­ance and tough­ness, There can be just one ver­dict…. Ruth Bad­er Gins­burg has her­self become a sym­bol of jus­tice in America.”

The glos­sary defines the legal vocab­u­lary and insti­tu­tions men­tioned in the text and an Author’s Note” fur­ther expands upon the Noto­ri­ous R. B. G.’s” ground­break­ing career and work on the Supreme Court.

The illus­tra­tions, in gouache, ink and Pho­to­shop, are at times dreamy and at oth­er times eerie. They evoke the work of Ben Shahn, a Lithuan­ian-Amer­i­can artist known for his themes of social justice.

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 6 to 9.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

Discussion Questions