For all who admired her greatly—I think that’s just about everyone—and miss seeing her on the Court, especially now with SCOTUS so prominent in our lives, you might want to take a long look through Bonham’s online auction of The Library of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  It’s wonderful and moving just to look through the catalogue, which has lots of photos and text with personal stories accompanying some of the lot descriptions.  

How amazing to see lot 1, her copy of the textbook, Fundamentals of Procedure in Actions at Law (1922) with her annotations, for her civil procedure class in law school!! (There’s a photo of an annotated page of the book on page 6 of the catalogue.) There’s her personal copy of the Harvard Law Review in which she participated (lot 3), with her own heavy annotations in a couple of sections (see catalogue page 8). There’s a copy of her first published book from 1965 (lot 5), her copies of the Congressional Reports on the Equal Right Amendment extension hearings (lot 11), a commemorative album of her visit to her childhood school in Brooklyn (lot 17), her own copy of her collected writings (lot 63) and a copy of Black’s Law Dictionary (inscribed to her by the editor) (lot 57). There also collections of titles on various subjects from her personal library.

According to the catalogue notes, she often delivered a one-hour lecture titled “Opera and the Law,” and the auction offers what appear to be some of her notes for that lecture together with a copy of Derrick Wang’s “Libretto: Scalia/Ginsburg: A (Gentle) Parody of Operatic Proportions with Prefaces by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia,” appearing in The Columbia Journal of Law and the Arts, Vol 38:2 (2015). (Lot 61) 

There’s also a presentation copy of The RBG Workout (with a long inscription)(lot 67), written by her personal trainer, with whom she worked out twice a week.  The catalogue notes report that he called her “Super Diva,” and that, when her body was lying in state at the Capitol, he “famously gave her a fitting and moving tribute when he knelt in front of her casket and performed three pushups.”

Another interesting lot is an inscribed copy of Heidi Schreck’s play, What the Constitution Means to Me (lot 74).  According to the catalogue notes, the “play was first produced in 2016 and went to Broadway in 2019, winning both an Obie and New York Drama Critics Circle award for Best American Play as well as two Tony awards, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. The play closes with a voice recording of Ruth Bader Ginsburg asking the question, ‘When will there be enough women on the court?’ and answering her own question: ‘My answer is, when there are 9.’” When RBG attended the Broadway production in 2019, she met the author backstage and asked for a copy of the script. She subsequently sent the author a few notes: the author received “a Fedex package that had a copy of one of the cases that I discussed flagged with some things to look at, and then a letter thanking me for the script and giving me two notes. One had to do with changing a piece of language from ‘would have’ to ‘might have.’ She wanted me to be more precise with my language. The other one had to do with how to talk about the Equal Rights Amendment.” RBG’s copy of the script has a few autograph notes beneath the front cover.

The auction also includes a number of presentation copies of books authored by other justices, such as Lazy B by Sandra Day O’Connor (lot 32), inscribed to RBG and her husband, as well as other books, such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved (lot 38), with inscriptions to her. And there’s a copy of Gloria Steinem’s memoir (lot 62) inscribed to RBG: “To dearest Ruth—who paved the road for us all—with a lifetime of gratitude—Gloria.”

The auction closes on January 27.

Posted by Cydney Posner