‘Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words’ Review: Still Notorious

Despite what its title may imply, the documentary “Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words” does not recount Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s career through her words alone. But it does put her words front and center, relying on video and audio clips — of an address she gave as a law professor on the Equal Rights Amendment, of her Supreme Court confirmation process, of her arguments before and from the bench — to provide a sweeping view of her ideals.

Little here will seem new to those who paid attention to Ginsburg’s career or watched the Oscar-nominated documentary “RBG” (2018). But the director, Freida Lee Mock, repeatedly returns to the idea that change comes in steps. We hear from Jennifer Carroll Foy, who attended Virginia Military Institute after the Supreme Court’s Ginsburg-authored decision in United States v. Virginia led to the school opening to women, and from Lilly Ledbetter, who lost a dispute over pay discrimination suits before the court but whose case (and Ginsburg’s dissent) paved the way for the subsequent Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

While there may be no bad time to listen to Justice Ginsburg, this documentary, first shown in 2019 and finalized last year, is getting a release belated enough that it needs updating. Justice Ginsburg’s death in September is acknowledged only an “in memoriam” title card; when Irin Carmon, an author of “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” says that Ginsburg is “in great shape,” it’s difficult not to cringe. And though filled with valuable details, the documentary has the misfortune of arriving after countless other appraisals.

Ruth: Justice Ginsburg in Her Own Words
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 29 minutes. In virtual cinemas.

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