×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says She’s ‘Feeling Just Fine’ After Falling Last Month

WASHINGTON — As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg watched Focus Features and Participant Media’s “On the Basis of Sex” for the first time at a National Archives screening in Washington, D.C., she got big applause for how she described her wellbeing after suffering a fall last month.

“I’m feeling just fine, and I am meeting my personal trainer tomorrow,” Ginsburg told NPR’s Nina Tonenberg in a Q&A session before the movie.

Last month, Ginsburg, 85, was hospitalized with three broken ribs from a fall, but she has recovered quickly, having appeared at the White House for the National Medal of Freedom ceremony just a couple of weeks later, and then at the funeral of George H.W. Bush at the National Cathedral last week.

On the Basis of Sex,” directed by Mimi Leder and written by Ginsburg’s newphen Dan Stiepleman, depicts how Ginsburg took her first gender discrimination case to federal court in the 1970s. Felicity Jones stars as Ginsburg and Armie Hammer plays her husband, Marty, who became her greatest champion at a time when women seeking a career in law were subject to blatant discrimination.

It was Marty Ginsburg who first came to Ruth with the case of Moritz vs. IRS, which involved an unmarried man who was denied a tax deduction for caregiving expenses because of his gender.

“When Dan came to me with this idea [for the movie], I said, ‘Well, if you want to spend years of your life, it is your choice, if you want to do it,'” Ginsburg told the audience. “And I asked why did he pick the Moritz case? Why did you pick that case instead of one of the Supreme Court cases? And Dan’s answer was, ‘I want this film to be as much story of a marriage as the development of a legal strategy.'”

Marty Ginsburg first alerted Ginsburg to the tax case, in an instance that is depicted in the move.

“Marty came into my little room, he worked in the bigger room, and he said, ‘Ruth, read this.’ And I said, ‘Marty, you know I don’t read tax cases,” Ginsburg recalled. “[He said] ‘Read this one.’ About 10 minutes later, I walked into his big room and said, ‘Marty, let’s take it.'”

The case ended up launching Ginsburg’s work on a series of gender discrimination cases, and led to the creation of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project.

“Pauline Murray and Dorothy Kenyon were the women who pressured the ACLU to get into the gender discrimination business,” Ginsburg recalled. “And one of Dorothy Kenyon’s missions was to put women on juries in every state of the union. The young people in this audience probably think it is inconceivable that women were automatically exempt from jury duty in most states. I thought we were standing on the shoulders of those women, they had said the same thing in the ’40s in the ’50s into the ’60s that we were saying in the ’70s. The difference was society was not yet ready to listen. In the ’70s, things had changed so we could prevail.”

The movie also shows the discrimination that Ginsburg faced, particularly in the 1950s at Harvard Law School. Dean Erwin Griswold, played by Sam Waterston, is shown asking Ginsburg how she could justify taking the place of a man.

Ginsburg said that even at Rutgers, where she taught, she feared that when she became pregnant, her contract wouldn’t be renewed because there were no law prohibiting such treatment.

“I borrowed my mother-in-law’s clothes,” she said. “She was one size larger, so it was perfect. I got through the semester. I had my contract renewed, and the last day of the term I told my colleagues, when I return in September, there will be one more in our family.”

Ginsburg said that she reviewed three renditions of the script before handing off the reading duties to her daughter Jane. “And she and she read script four, five, six and I don’t know how many more, till it was done,” she said.

Totenberg noted that Ginsburg “argued” with her nephew about a scene at the beginning of the movie in which she is shown wearing heels as she entered Harvard. She didn’t wear them. But she didn’t object to a how the final climatic final oral argument was portrayed, in which Ginsburg at first freezes up before the three judge appellate panel and then recovers in her rebuttal.

Totenburg said that she asked Stiepleman, “Is that true? Did she freeze up in the beginning of the argument?’ And he said, ‘Ruth Ginsburg never flubbed an argument in her life.'”

“There was no rebuttal,” Ginsburg responded. “Marty had the first 12 minutes, and I had the rest. I think questions continued beyond the half hour allotted to the two of us, but there was no rebuttal time.” But she doesn’t mind the sequence. “It fits in very well the way it is portrayed in the film,” she said.

Tonenberg also asked her what she thought of one scene in the movie, which she called the “sex scene,” showing Ginsburg and her husband having intimate relations.

“My response to that is, ‘Marty would have loved it,'” Ginsburg said, to great laughs in the audience.

The screening was the first time Ginsburg saw the completed project. As she left, she stood and clapped to the cast and crew.

More Politics

  • Michael Cohen appears at his sentencing

    Michael Cohen Postpones Congressional Testimony, Cites Trump 'Threats'

    WASHINGTON — Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former attorney, is postponing his planned appearance before a congressional committee on Feb. 7, as Cohen’s attorney cited “threats against his family” from the President and Rudy Giuliani. Lanny Davis, one of Cohen’s attorneys, said in a statement that “due to ongoing threats against his family from President Trump [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Pelosi Says She Will Not Permit Trump to Deliver State of the Union in House Chamber

    WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not allow President Donald Trump to deliver the State of the Union address in the House chamber until after the shutdown is over and the government has reopened. “I am writing to inform you that the House of Representatives will not consider a concurrent resolution authorizing [...]

  • 2018 Sundance Film Festival - Egyptian

    Sundance Preview: Expect Political Moments and Few Costly Deals at 2019 Festival

    Zac Efron underwent a grueling physical transformation to play serial killer Ted Bundy in “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” a drama premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this week. “I lost 13 pounds,” Efron says. To prepare for the biographical role, he rode a stationary bike for an hour in the mornings while binge-watching [...]

  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg talks with an

    Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, Ind., Joins 2020 Presidential Race

    WASHINGTON — Pete Buttigieg, the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind. and Afghanistan veteran, launched a longshot bid for the White House on Wednesday by forming a presidential exploratory committee. If he were to win the Democratic nomination, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay man to do so. In an announcement video where he [...]

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders

    White House Correspondents: End of Daily Briefing 'Sets a Terrible Precedent'

    WASHINGTON — The president of the White House Correspondents’ Association said the apparent end of the daily White House press briefing “sets a terrible precedent.” President Donald Trump tweeted on Tuesday that he told press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders “not to bother” with the daily briefing, which has been a longtime tradition in which a [...]

  • Donald Trump

    Supreme Court Allows Trump's Transgender Military Ban as Case Proceeds

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will allow the Trump administration’s ban on transgender service members to go into effect while the policy is being challenged in the courts. In a 5-4 decision, the high court granted the administration’s request to lift a court stay that had sidelined the policy, which Trump announced in a tweet [...]

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders Jemele Hill

    Trump Says He Told Sarah Huckabee Sanders 'Not to Bother' With Press Briefings

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said he told Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders “not to bother” with press briefings, once a staple of media coverage of the White House that have instead become a rarity. Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning, “the reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content