tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC September 19, 2020 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
on a cage. >> she shaped the law of the supreme court for a quarter of a century. tel tells how she changed her life and the nation. >> she's super human. >> she impacted the law. ♪ >> it is bizarre to see justice ginsburg who is this is very button down person, establishment oriented and loves opera and does not have a radical self notation. why is she the notorious r.b.g.? >> she does not speak the loudest voice but she's extraordinary strong.
>> you can imagine, professional boxers are tougher. the toughest i have dealt with is justice ginsburg. >> she dramatically threw her advocacy and later threw her position on the supreme court, alter the way this country thinks about gender roles, in a way that opened up opportunities for everyone. >> in the majestic chambers of the supreme court, the law clerks who served ruth bader ginsburg has a unique perspective on the legendary jurists. >> they're the advisers to the justice. >> with ten thousand cases submitted to the court, the clerks helped the nine justices
to decide which one is merit consideration. >> they are junior justices. >> as members of this exclusive club, clerks maintain a certain discretion about what goes on behind the scenes. you would never disclose the substance of anything to folks outside. >> justice ginsburg had a lot to say about the woman who profoundly impacted not only their lives but those of countless americans. >> i feel so lucky to have her as a model, her temperament and careful attention to language, her fair dealing with others. >> see house of representatives she cares about the people with this country. you don't want to let her down. >> ill never call her the "r" word. ruth. it is always justice and that'll
never change. >> away from the court, ruth bader ginsburg has become the pop culture icon known as notorious r.b.g. some die hard fans gotten r.b.g. tattoos. >> why would you make something that can't be removed on yourself? >> notorious r.b.g. is a nickname that i coined. it is sort of encapsulation of justice ginsburg's larger than life force she brings to the supreme court. it is a reference to the notorious b.i.g. of the late, great rapper from the '90s, one spoke truth to power and use words to do so. >> r.b.g.'s quiet power was apparent of the moment they arrived to their job interview. >> i walked into the office for
the first time. she was standing there. she does not have a standing desk. i remember struck by both how small she was and how giant she was because she's an absolute icon. >> the thing about her is she talks very slowly and sldlib sl deliberately. >> there is often a number of pauses in her conversations. >> i was careful not to step over her words. i would let three seconds to laugh just to look at her to make sure she was done before responding to any questions. >> at public events like this one at the national museum of american jewish history of philadelphia, admirers rallied around the justice. >> this visit included a tour of
a traveling exhibit that chronicles r.b.g.'s own life. >> we talk about your mother here and her roles. >> justice ginsburg was born in 1933 in flat bush, brooklyn to nathan and cecilia bader. >> nathan immigrated to new york. >> i am the beneficiary of myself. my father were not able to leave and come here and make a living. that's america to me. >> while jews of the u.s. did not face those rounded up by the nazis during world war ii. the bader family was not protected from prejudice.
>> she recalled seeing "no jews all allowed" signs because she was y jewish. she was discriminated against which absolutely influenced her to work of people being marginalized. that included woman like her mother, cecilia. >> she graduated at the age of 15. she never had a chance to go to college because all the family's money went to her oldest brother's college tuition to cornell. >> i learned to love the smell of chinese food in those days because the library was one floor above the tiny chinese restaurant. >> growing up, ruth bader ginsburg faced a series of emotional hardships. >> her older sister was
four-year-old when ruth was born but sadly ruth has no memory of maryland because she died of meningitis at the age of six. >> this was something her parents got over. my mother says every night when our mother came home from work, there was a picture of maryland and he would come and look at the picture and break down crying every night. >> as ruth enters high school, her mother was diagnosed with cervical cancer. >> it is something she hid at the time. she didn't want people to feel sorry for her. >> two days before ruth's graduation, her mother died. >> as a result of her mother's death, she was unable to speak at her graduation even though she was at the top of the class. >> the justice honored her mother's memory by getting the education that seylvi cecilia ct
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>> reporter: after graduating near the top of her high school class, ruth bader entered cornell university in the fall of 1950. >> there were four men to every woman. so for parents, cornell was the ideal place to send a girl. if she couldn't find her man she could not find her men there, she was hopeless. there was something amazingly wonderful about this man. he cared that i had a brain. nine days after she graduated from cornell with a bachelor degree in government, ruth and
marty married. >> justice ginsburg loved to tell the story of the advise she received from her mother-in-law. her mother-in-law said the secret to a marriage is always be a little deaf. that turned out to be very good advise not only dealing with marty but even until these days dealing with my current colleagues. >> marty provided a counter balance to his sometimes serious spouse. >> there was one episode at one of her clerk reunions where in the process of putting his arms around her, he taped a sign to the justice's back. the sign says "her highness," when she realized, she chuckled. i love that story because it is a window into the banter of the heart of their wonderful love
affair. she followed him to oklahoma where she was in reserve -- when she was pregnant. she got demoted. >> discrimination was not something that was abstract in her life. it was real and present and made her i think sensitive. >> from oklahoma the couple moved to boston in 1956 to attend harvard law school. ruth bader ginsburg was one of nine women in the program. >> the deen han had a practice year only have female students to come. the dean asked students there why would they take the place of a male. >> the justice responded
"something to talk to my husband about." >> of course, she did not meant that. was she put on the spot and don't know what to say, that's possible. >> at home there were serious challenges. when their daughter jane was two. marty was diagnosed with cancer. >> it was my second year in law school. marty's third year. there was massive surgeries followed by massive radiation. there was no chemo therapy in those days. my routine was i would attend my classes and i would then go to mass general, the hospital where he was in the afternoon and then i started typing the notes that his classmates given me and reading whatever cases. i would read for the next day and maybe i got two hours sleep.
>> law school alone as a single person is incredibly challenging but to do all that is incredible. >> she developed the habits that allowed her to manage all these different parts of her life successfully. she carried those habits throughout her career. >> marty recovered and graduated harvard law school on schedule, a year before his wife. >> given what he wanted to do and given that he was jewish, there was a few firms he could work at boston. he needed to take a job in new york. they had a young child and he was newly recovered from cancer and so the idea that she would stay in boston was not in the realm of the possible. so she left harvard and went to columbia without having any assurance that she would end up with a degree. >> ginsburg graduated number one in her class, yet did not receive a single job offer from
a new york law firm. >> she was essentially discriminated against for three reason, she was a woman, a mother and a jew. that experience helped her realize what feminism was all about. >> her columbia law school professor, gerald gunther. >> i am not concerned that she's a woman. she's got a four-year-old daughter, how can i risk it? i may need her even on a sunday. >> so doug's proposal was. if you don't give her a chance, i will never recommend another columbia student to you. >> a lot of highly successful women of her generation understood they have to do everything a little better and
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>> reporter: even after graduating at the top of her law school class, ruth bader ginsburg struggled to find a job. it was after graduating, ruth bader ginsburg struggled to find a job. it was the 1960s. if your boss grabs your ass, it is just to pick a dough. it is nothing that the law needs to be concerned with. that was a mainstream view. in 1963, ginsburg began teaching at rucker's law school. when she became pregnant with her second child, she told no one. i am not going to tell anyone impregnant and the way she got
away that was her mother-in-law was one size larger than ruth so her mother-in-law lent her clothes to finish her semester. >> it was no longer legal to pay women differently than men. when she went to her dean to ask him about this, the response was, well, you have a husband in a high-paying good job. you don't need the money. >> at home marty was in charge of the family's kitchen. their daughter joked in their house, daddy did the cooking and mommy did the thinking. >> there was a certain repertory not particularly good dishes that my mother could put together. overtime my father took over that role. >> i remember being invited to their house and marty serving an
amazing homemade bagguet. >> he brought a powerful legal mind to the table. >> marty ginsburg was certainly the best tax lawyer in this generation and one of the leading figures in merger and acquisitions law. >> the married lawyers teamed up on a project, the case that marty found and one that ruth thought may shake up america of gender bias. >> our goal in the '70s was to end -- it was so many things off limits to women, policing, firefighters and flying planes. >> the victim of the discrimination case the ginsburg took on was not a woman. >> it was about this guy and he took care of his mother and he
wanted to get a tax benefit for the caretaker who he hired to take care of his mother when he was away or unable to be there. >> the tax code did not recognize males as primary care givers. so combining the forces of marty ginsburg and r.b.g., she argued that was sex discrimination. >> the united states court of appeals or the tenth circuit eventually agreed. >> they use that case as a vehicle to explain how gender stereotype actually worked. they don't just hold women back, they actually hold men back. at 39-year-old, ruth bader ginsburg's reputation -- between
1973 and 1978, ginsburg argued six gender discrimination cases before the supreme court's all male bench. >> i knew that i was speaking to men who did not think there was any such thing as gender base discrimination. and my job was to tell them it really exists. you would not want the world to be that way for your granddaughters. >> in at least two cases that she talked for over ten minutes without ever being interrupted. >> sex like race is a visible and immutable. sex like race has been made the basis for unsufficientjustified
least unproved assumptions, concerning an individual's potential to perform or to contribute to society. >> to change the country's perception on gender, she found a case with another male plaintiff. he had been barred from receiving his late wife's work benefits. >> you have a father whose wife has died. he wants to stay home to care for his young son. the laws are set up in a way it is disadventagious for him to do that. he wanted to challenge that law. he wanted to be a stay-at-home father after his wife as died. so that's just ginsburg's vision of an ideal world of men and women treated equally.
>> ginsburg was victorious in the wisenfield case. she won five of the six cases she argued in court. >> when i look back and read those cases was how carefully they were chosen and litigated so each one built on the last in a way that the justices could understand why laws deteriorate against women were unconstitutional and why it should be struck down. >> as a new decade dawn, she was ready for a change and a move to the other side of the bench. >> she was largely done with doing the big things that she wanted to do for women. i think she was ready to do something different than what she wanted to be and was a judge. >> she was nominated bide
president carter in 1980 to be on the d.c. circuit. one of the things he felt very strong was changing the face of the u.s. judiciary. >> the next 13 years, ginsburg became known for consensus billing with more conservative colleagues and the thoughtful judgment that would lead her from the d.c. circuit to this supreme court. >> what's funny is her law clerks always called her r.b.g. when she was on the d.c. circuit, there was another judge ginsburg so it was never clear of what you were talking about so people got in the habit of calling her r.b.g. >> no one could imagined her three initials became the vernacular. e vernacular
i want to make it absolutely clear. rioting is not protesting. looting is not protesting. it's lawlessness, plain and simple. and those who do it should be prosecuted. fires are burning and we have a president who fans the flames. he can't stop the violence because for years he's fomented it. but his failure to call on his own supporters to stop acting as an armed militia in this country shows how weak he is. violence will not bring change, it will only bring destruction. it's wrong in every way. if i were president, my language would be less divisive. i'd be looking to lower the temperature in this country, not raise it. donald trump is determined to instill fear in america
because donald trump adds fuel to every fire. this is not who we are. i believe we'll be guided by the words of pope john paul ii, words drawn from the scriptures. be not afraid. i'm joe biden and i approve this message. i'm joe biden to wear a mask out in public around other people. sure it'll keep you healthy. but more importantly, i won't have to see your happy smiling face. ugh.
>> reporter: when supreme court justice, byron white, announced he would retire in 1993, president bill clinton laufrmnc a nationwide search for his replacement. ruth bader ginsburg made the list of candidate but she wasn't at the top. behind the scenes, her she was the campaign manager for her on the supreme court. >> marty started a path of gathering forces to support ruth to be considered. >> he knew the constituencies that he wanted to weigh in and the women's movement was one of
them. >> there was some discussions among the progressive women's rights organization about she was their justice but it is absurd thinking about it now. >> i remember where i was standing when marty called me to say "we won." i said "what are you talking about"? i said we won. he chosen ruth. >> i am proud to nominate judge ruth bader ginsburg. >> judge ruth bader ginsburg made an emotional tribute to her mother who had been denied of education so many years earlier. >> i pray that i may be all she would have been, had she lived in an age when daughters are
cherished as much as sons. >> she still had to be confirmed by the senate. >> the degree of drama was much smaller than it is than the recent nomination. it was all civil. >> even on hot button issues like abortion. >> i am never going to please all the people all the time on this issue, i can only try to say what is my position. >> i agree with you. >> you have been and i agree with that. i admire you personally. this is more important. >> it seems so far today but her biggest advocate during the confirmation hearing was oren hatch. this conservative senator from utah. >> she's qualified and temperament. >> she became the second female supreme court justice in the nation's history after o' conner.
>> the senate overwhelmingly confirmed ruth bader ginsburg, the vote was 96-3. >> my hope is i would live to see the day when the senate operates that again instead of bipartisan divide. >> that was embodied in justice ruth bader ginsburg's friendship with one of the most conservative justices, justice scalia known as the great. >> they were old friends. justice scalia was very much like marty, he had a hysterical sense of humor. >> sometimes he would whisper to me that was so funny and i had everything i can do to contain
myself from burst out laughing. >> this was the strangest couple of all time of american law. >> if he was on a deserted island and could pick one person -- >> the two shared a particular passion, the opera. >> i would read these opinions that justice scalia would write. maybe this is the end and maybe they're not friends anymore. >> i have never gotten angry at ruth or any of my colleagues. because of the way they voted. if you can't disagree with your colleagues on the law without technique personally. >> just three years into her time in court, ginsburg took part in one of the most significant cases of her career.
the united states government sued the state of virginia over its policies that barred women from attending the prestigious virginia military institute, vmi. >> what it was done was to set up a separate but equal school for women. it was separate but not equal at all. >> women were going to somehow ruin the school. >> that's what people said said when women wanted to go to law school and become lawyers. >> six years later the case came before the supreme court and vmi's future was in the hands of the yjustices. when the majority voted to allow female cadets, justice o' conner, the senior justice insisted that go to her good friend and women's rights champion, ruth bader ginsburg. >> from day one, the state
supported virginia military institute only admitted males, tonight time is about to change. >> ginsburg's friend, justice scalia was the center. >> four years later in 2000s. scalia and ginsburg were again at odds. this decides the nation's next president. >> good evening, some what unbelievably, here we are three nights after the election night, still there is no president-e l elect and not everyone close. the question of who'll be president all come down to the electoral college and who would win florida. >> in a 5-4 vote, the supreme
court stopped florida's recount effectively declaring george w. bush, the 43rd president of the united states, ginsburg issued a powerful decent saying the supreme court should not interfere. >> i respectably descend. for democrats, i decent became a rallying cry. >> not long -- she was noticed as she was walking to her seats and and a lot of people in the crowd started to stand and applaud and marty turned to her and said "i bet you didn't know a tax convention was in town." it was just the beginning of her icon. e beginning of her icon
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ruth bader ginsburg. plauz [ applause ][ applause ] >> i knew ruth bader ginsburg before she was famous. by which i mean she was merely a justice of the supreme court of the united states. but not the notorious r.b.g. >> this is not what i would have expected growing up. my father was the like of the party but i think she really grown into that role. >> my clerk ship doc has written traumatically. somehow the world learned so much about her and come to admire her so much more. >> many clerks have witnessed
her worded opinions and scathing dissents on history making cases. >> in our country when there is an execution, there will be a last minute appeal of that execution to the supreme court. it is usually one clerk from each chamber decides to that death case. >> justice ginsburg was at the opera. i needed to be in touch with her about a particular death case on which her vote was needed. the u.s. marshal drove into a black suv to catch justice ginsburg in the intermission of the opera and she said "keep him alive." of course, i do register her vote. >> in 2006, sandra day o' conner announced her retirement in
court leaving ginsburg as the soul female justice for the next three years. the court upheld a partial birth abortion ban. >> ginsburg was offended by the language written by justice kennedy when he says "women who receive abortion suffers with depression." >> i think we see ruth bader ginsburg at that time thinking i am the only woman and how can he be saying these things. we are capable of making our own decisions. >> i don't think anybody sent out to be a great dissenter as
the court became more conservative, she found necessary to use her voice. she carries a bag around that says "i dissent." she embraced this perspective. >> some of her most important opinions as a justice had been her dissenting opinion that calls to history. >> few of those calls were as loud as the dissent she wrote in 2007. >> this was a woman who had been discriminated against for years and years but did not realized that she had been paid less than men doing the same job until late in her career and the question was could she sue for all discrimination. >> the supreme court ruled that she could not set the statutes of limitations holding her lawyer accountable.
>> justice ruth bader ginsburg -- when you are being pa paid less than your male peers. >> she urged congress to rectify this congress. >> the ball is in congress' court to correct the error. >> and shortly after his inauguration in 2009 with better looking odds, president obama signed the fair pay act into law. >> ginsburg knew there were other injustices that still needed to be corrected. >> i think what had pushed her if anything to be more liberal in her old age is the idea that a lot of the things she fought for, she thinks they're not
being carried through on it. >> there was no better example of this than the case known as shelby county verses holder. a place of voter depression argued to the supreme court that the federal rules opposed on them by the 1965 voting rights act were no longer needed to the disappointment of many liberals, a majority of justices agreed. >> the supreme court basically said, look, we got an african-american in the white house and things have changed in the south. the voting rights act have basically out lived its usefulness and we don't need it anymore and they voted to essentially gut the voting rights act. >> it is only for the case if they feel most strongly about the dissent. >> serving effectively to
diminish a minority community's ability to exercise clout in the electoral process. >> that's what we did, we threw away the umbrella. that's dismantling of the voting rights act led in a straight line to this day to voter's suppression and manipulation and all the things so undermining of democracy. >> for all the setbacks though, there were giant leaps forward. in 2015, two years after r.b.g. officiated her first gay wedding, the supreme court required all 50 states to grant and recognize same-sex marriage. >> there was an impromptu celebration, marriage equality on the steps of supreme court.
>> i think one of the most beautiful moments i have ever witnessed in my life was the gay men standing out there. it destruct me that they were singing that in celebration in front of an institution just a couple decades earlier had criminalized them. felt such hope and optimism and thought about martin luther king's quote. >> it was a saying r.b.g. would invoke as she enters her mid-80s and a series of her health challenges that would alarm her supporters. challenges that would alarm her supporters but now a friend. still an electric car. just more electrifying. still a night out. but everything fits in.
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and admired. >> he was always my best friend. >> margot slanger bringing them together. >> at some point ruth bader ginsburg and justice marty took us and two other couples out to dinner at a fancy restaurant in d.c. >> she arranged all of us to have little fortune cookies and inside there is a little love poem. >> his life came to an end in 2010. >> he wanted to cook. ruth managed to help him stand up at the counter and wedge her own body behind his and that image is their relationship that
even at the very end, they were together. >> by this point, ginsburg had been battle her own health issues for more than a decade. >> i started court summer of 1989. it was early in the fall that justice ginsburg was diagnosed with colon cancer. it was very touch and go in chambers for a while. no one knew how bad her condition was or what we could expect, and we went down to the courtroom that morning for the first day and there she was. >> i was fine for ten years and then in 2009, a tiny tumor was detected very early. and i had surgery for that. >> she's very careful about her own health where other people may not find out that they have x things until it is too late to
treat it. >> the toughest skrjustice on t supreme court and the oldest, ruth bader ginsburg. [ applause ] also known as the notorious r.b.g. it was barack obama who nominated two other women to join ginsburg on the bench. >> during the obama administration, some of her support saying okay, you have done a great job, you need to retire now so that your su successors can be nominated by a democratic president. i think she rescinded that. she would often say who are you going to find better than me. >> r.b.g. made a statement that led many to question her.
>> some of her supporters wondering if she went too far. >> ginsburg says he had no consistency about him and he has an eeg gogo. >> she said one point, if he gets elected i will move to new zealand. >> something happened recently where justice ruth bader ginsburg made an inappropriate statement against me. she was forced to apologize and apologize she did. >> so help me god. >> congratulations mr. president. >> with the inauguration of donald j. trump, her health seems to take on a greater urgency. the court shifted to the right. people on the left were
concerned for what it means for healthcare to gun violence and reproductive choices. >> when she appeared at the library of congress book festival later in the summer. >> please be seated. >> she made light of her predicament. how am i feeling? first, this audience can see that i am alive. >> i have seen no evidence of it. >> i love my job. it has kept me going through four cancer battles.
instead of concentrating on my aches and pains, i concentrate on my work. >> ginsburg has never strayed from her mission of making america the sanctuary it had been for her late father. >> the heart of america would be its citizens, not its rulers. >> history has a simple memory and the simple way to remember her will be that she was in the forefront of a successful movement for human liberation. >> people will look back and remember justice ruth bader ginsburg as somebody that impacted the law that made their lives better. >> the progress i have seen in my lifetime makes me optimistic
for the future. the challenge is to make and keep up immunities, places where we can tolerate even celebrate our differences while pulling together for the common good. you know when they tell you your life passes before your eyes, you think about everything that happened in your life and you wonder, am i ready to do? >> he was a hollywood stuntman, but that was no hollywood stunt. >> this was a hit. >> shot four times and left dying on the floor. >> somebody definitely wanted him dead. >> but who? and why? you'll meet lots of possible suspects. >> oh, my gosh. >> including his ex-wife, an