Book Review: In My Own Words Ruth Bader Ginsburg
I like to read political books. Although I consider myself to be a conservative, I read books from varying political points of view. Any writing from Ruth Bader Ginsburg would most definitely be a liberal point of view. In her book, she unabashedly calls herself a liberal.
I was expecting her book to be autobiographical. Although her book did contain a biographical component, most of the book consisted of her writings, speeches, and court opinions.
Eighth Grade Opinion Piece>
One of the first passages from her book was an opinion piece from her eighth-grade newspaper. She wrote about the five greatest writings of all time, the Ten Commandments, the Magna Carta, the British Bill of Rights, The US Declaration of Independence, and the UN Charter. Nothing about the US Constitution. Keep in mind this is a writing of an eighth-grader.
Part of her writing horrified me. She wrote about how the Magna Carta “gave the English peasants the first rights ever granted to them”. Rights being granted ??!! No, No, No, our rights weren’t granted. The Constitution doesn’t grant rights. Rights are natural, given by God. The Constitution doesn’t grant rights, it guarantees rights. Then I calmed down and remembered it was written by an eighth-grader and she was talking about the Magna Carta, not the Constitution. Interesting point though. The British get their rights from the Magna Carta and Americans get our rights from God?
Strong Believer in Women’ Rights and Affirmative Action
A large part of the book discusses her opinions on Women’s rights. She is a strong advocate for women’s rights. I guess I can’t blame her for that, she is a woman after all. She also devotes chapters to her opinions about affirmative action. She is a strong believer in affirmative action.
Foreign and International Law
She makes some interesting points about citations of foreign and international law. These kinds of citations have been used by both conservative and liberal justices. There is some controversy about whether or not these are appropriate in American court opinions. Her point was that foreign and international law are not used as legal president, but as reasoning to justify a court opinion.
I thought she made an interesting point about dissenting court opinions. She wrote about several of her dissents especially when she was on the losing side regarding women’s rights and affirmative action. Her point was dissenting opinions can spur the legislature to take action and pass laws to correct deficiencies that led to unfavorable court opinions.
In summary, if you are expecting an autobiography you will probably be disappointed. If you want to read a book about what makes Ruth Bader Ginsburg “tick”, the book will not disapoint. My timing for reading her book worked out very well. Just as I finished her book and returned it to the library, I checked out a book I had on reserve. The book? A Republic, If You Can Keep It. By Neal Gorsuch.