IN HER first argument before the Supreme Court—20 years before Bill Clinton would nominate her to be America’s 107th justice—Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked nine men to put themselves into the shoes of an air-force lieutenant who had been treated differently because she was a woman. In 1973, Sharron Frontiero challenged a rule giving male airmen automatic housing benefits for their wives while women could do the same only by proving their husbands were dependent on them. It was, as directors Betsy West and Julie Cohen show in “RBG”, an informative and affecting documentary film, a significant step toward persuading the justices that America’s constitution has something to say about women’s rights.
Lawyers addressing the Supreme Court these days rarely get more than a few sentences out before they are lashed with questions from the bench. The colloquy wasn’t always that heated in the 1970s, but it was rare for a lawyer to speak for minutes on end without being questioned. In Ms Ginsburg’s inaugural trip to the lectern for Frontiero…Continue reading