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Review: RBG
by Karen Pecota

In connection with CNN Films, now celebrating its fifth year, and STORYVILLE FILMS, the collaboration with filmmakers Betsy West and Julie Cohen, showcase the exceptional life and career of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in RBG.

At the age of 85, Ruth Bader Ginsburg holds one of the highest positions in the United States, as a Supreme Court Judge. Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg took the oath to the highest court in the land and took her seat on August 10, 1993. Undeniable her legal legacy as a trailblazer for equal rights is one to take notice. West and Cohen take the film audience on a journey that explores RBG's career accomplishments, her romance with her husband Marty, as well as, her love for life, her family and her friends.

Currently, Ginsburg has become a phenomenon among the millennial generation. They nickname her RBG. Spreading her virtues on Twitter, Tumblr, getting tattoos of her face, purchasing T-shirts and tote bags in support of their notorious icon. West and Cohen jumped on the band-wagon to celebrate Ginsburg's legacy in documentary form.

Insightful is how the filmmakers showcase not only the amazing career of Ginsburg's law and political service but her marriage to Marty Ginsburg--a highly esteemed New York City Tax Attorney. Their courtship and romance is most endearing and impressionable. I can't help but wonder what our country would look like if there were more husbands like Marty. Men not threatened or jealous by the accomplishments of their spouse. Men overwhelmingly proud of their spouse to propel her persona and skills to a higher level. Men who seek the best interest of their spouse often higher than their own interests. Men who are natural visionaries and humble enough to embrace, with full-support, the impact possible their spouse could have on society through career and passion.

RGB makes no bones in telling people that if it were not for Marty, she would not have been appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court as Justice. She notes that it is of utmost importance to pick a life partner who believes in you and says, "Marty coached me through the birth of our son, he was the first reader and critic of articles, speeches and briefs I drafted, and he was at my side constantly, in and out of the hospital, during two long bouts with cancer."

The narrative documented of the marriage between Ruth and Marty Ginsburg is worth seeing West and Cohen's film alone. Great job to the female team for their love of RBG and desire to tell her story right. Their integrity as storytellers gives credence to their future as wise filmmakers.

While West and Cohen explore RBG's life-long fight for gender equality they also mention, "RBG fights for democratic institutions that protect the rights of all citizens." They share, "After graduating at the top of her law school class, she could not get a job." Women were not equal to men in that era. One can imagine her disappointment when she'd apply for a job to use her lawyer skills and only be offered such positions in a law firm as secretary, receptionist or part of an administrative staff. West and Cohen continue, "She remembered her mother's advice: ' never pays to be angry...anger is a waste of time..'. West and Cohen note that RBG willfully curtailed any anger that might have been the cause of derailing her legal careered influence. It paid off! For five decades she has used her legal skills to successfully fight for women's rights. Not excluding men's rights of course, putting together material for groundbreaking rulings that put women and men on an equal playing field before the law. For example:

Reed v. Reed (1971)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the brief in this early landmark women's rights case. Ginsburg and her team convinced the Supreme Court to strike down and Idaho law stating that "males must be preferred to females" as the administrators of estates.

Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld (1975)

In this case, Ginsburg showed that Men too suffer the consequences of laws that discriminate on the basis of sex. Representing the widowed father of a young son, she argued successfully that widowers should have access to the same child care benefits that widows do.

United States v. Virginia (1996)

In her first women's rights case as a Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the landmark majority opinion. With her 7-1 ruling, the Court struck down the male-only admissions policy of the Virginia Military Institute and concluded that government policies which discriminate on the basis of gender should be presumed unconstitutional.

As the commencement speaker at Virginia military institute shortly after the ruling, RBG thanked the male constituents for their patience and sincere acceptance of the female counterparts that would have presence marking a historical milestone. And, added that each and every female graduate would make them proud.

Advice RGB was given by her mother-in-law helpful in her personal life and career, "'s to your best advantage 'to be a little deaf.' “Taken from her book, My Own Words, this is one advice she has held to for decades because she writes, "When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one's ability to persuade." Undoubtedly, advice taken to heart increased her wisdom and integrity and continues to be useful even to this day.

West and Cohen have many delightful quips and quotes they share in their RGB documentary. I will pass-on this one, "Don't just keep your enemies close; make them into friends." This aspect has to do with being a good listener to those you disagree with. Her point is that while one can agree to disagree, the ability to sincerely listen and understand is a choice that develops over time. It can help make a new world by building on something together. A perfect example is her relationship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia. They were the best of friends, in spite of their vast political differences. They had so much fun going out on the town, often weekly, turning heads from onlookers.  They enjoyed one another's company to the fullest measure. Ahhh...what a wonderful world RGB lives sharing a remarkable legacy!