Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last Friday, attracted a fandom like no Supreme Court justice before her. Halloween costumes, Tumblr accounts, films (such as On the Basis of Sex), and books (including Notorious RBG) cemented her cult of personality. For such a rule-following legal figure (carefully rendered by Jane Sherron De Hart in the biography Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life), this meme-ified public image can seem perplexing. But, as the Atlantic staff writer Megan Garber argues, the intimacy of her fandom makes sense given the deeply personal legislation Ginsburg fought for in the Court. Reading her sometimes-fiery dissents reveals both her powerful grasp of the law and her passion for equal rights. Conversations With RBG, a series of interviews with her friend and the Atlantic contributor Jeffrey Rosen, weaves together her personal convictions and her professional mission.
Books about other justices’ lives shed light on the factors that have shaped their legal decisions as well. The Chief, by the journalist Joan Biskupic, considers the evolution of John Roberts’s legal thinking through examining the divide “between his heart and his head.” The political scientist Corey Robin’s The Enigma of Clarence Thomas attempts to explain the roots of Thomas’s conservatism, and briefly addresses Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment against him. The Age of Eisenhower and Eisenhower vs. Warren chronicle the tempestuous relationship between President Dwight Eisenhower and his chief justice, Earl Warren, during the 1960s fight for civil rights and the Brown v. Board of Education school-segregation case.
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is an assistant editor at The Atlantic