Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on November 5, 2019
This is a somewhat unique book where a sitting Supreme Court Justice conducts a number of public conversations touching on a variety of topics revealing her views on the law, her colleagues, the role of dissents, and how celebrity has impacted upon her as "The Notorious RBG.". One reason these conversations come off so well is that RBG and Jeffrey Rosen have known each other for decades, and she seems comfortable speaking with him. The format involves Rosen setting up each conversation with the legal and historical background, so that when cases are discussed the reader knows the territory.

I found several of the chapters especially interesting and valuable. In chapter 3 RBG really gets into the Roe abortion decision, and why she was not happy to have the decision based on privacy rather than equality. Her criticisms of the decision led to many attacks upon her by feminists; she continues to maintain that state legislatures rather than the Court should have made the decision. In chapter 5 she discusses the impact of having women colleagues on the Court, especially Sandra Day O;Conner. On occasion, she is likely to throw in discussion of tangential topics such as here where she discusses cancer, her famous gym workouts, and whether her critics were correct that she should have stepped down from the Court.

One surprising thing I learned was her warm relations with William Rehnquist; her comments regarding CJ Roberts are not nearly as affectionate. Also her discussion of how celebrity has impacted her was very helpful. In several chapters she discuses the role of dissents and how they should be done; Justice Stevens as a primary role model; and her views of originalism and judicial activism. 9 is a particularly interesting chapter where the discussion concerns cases she would like to see overruled: Citizens United, Obamacare, Shelby County, partial birth abortions and the Fisher affirmative action decision. I don't think I have ever seen such a question thrown at a sitting Justice, and certainly not such candid responses

There is lots more: gender equality; the "MeToo" movements likely impact; unconscious racial bias; the VMI decision; and her love of music. Rosen has done a fine job in putting all this together in book form. He has even attached helpful notes to supplement the presentation. This is indeed a rare event in my experience: a sitting senior Justice responding to candid questions with pretty straightforward responses. Inside tales by sitting Justices are indeed rare; this one is to be savored because that Justice is RBG.
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