Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Books Are Up for Auction: A Bidder’s Guide


Here you’ll find more than 1,000 books with entries from fellow judges, some of Ginsburg’s old annotated law textbooks, and gifts from Gloria Steinem and Annie Leibovitz.

You could even see the corrections she made to one of her colleague’s books – after it was published.

And no Ginsburg-iana collection would be complete without honorary degrees from Brown University and Smith College.

Here’s what caught our attention:

Lots 1, 2 and 4: textbooks

Three textbooks from Ginsburg’s time at Harvard and Columbia are up for grabs, including volumes on civil procedure and property.
The passages are underlined and annotated, so if you were hoping for a blank version of Cornelius Moynihan’s 1940 “A Preliminary Survey of the Law of Real Property” you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Lot 3: The Harvard Law Review of 1957-1958

For Harvard Law Review finalists, there’s RBG’s annotated copy from his year at the law review.

According to Bonhams, Ginsburg heavily annotated an essay titled “Problems of Parallel States and Federal Remedies” and one titled “Pricing Restrictive Patent Licenses Under the Sherman Act,” by Helmut F. Furth. In the latter, Ginsburg “emphasizes and annotates Furth’s history of the price-fixing patent and the court’s regulation of it.”

Lot 5) Swedish civil procedure

Ginsburg’s first published book, “Civil Procedure in Sweden”, with Anders Bruzelius (1965), did not take American book markets by storm, but the area of ​​civil procedure was the one she would focus on for the rest of his career. . (Judge Antonin Scalia once described Ginsburg to CNN’s Joan Biskupic as “a tigress of civil procedure.”)

“It’s just instinct for me,” she told Biskupic in early 2020. “The procedure is supposed to serve the people the law exists to serve.”

“Reading and observing another system gave me a better understanding of my own system,” Ginsburg added of his time in Sweden.

This article is incomplete without lot 103 — a collection of Swedish law books.
Also lot 75 — a collection of photos of the late judge in Sweden from 2019.

Lots 16 and 33: honorary certificates in Latin

For Smith College and Brown University graduates, libraries or alumni societies, RBG Honorary Degrees of 1994 and 2002, respectively.

Seriously, it’s a no-brainer. Buy the diploma, present it at school, take advantage of the tax advantage, etc. Don’t let any random Dartmouth fan get away with this one.

Lot 25: If you are Larry Tribe

An autographed copy of Tribe’s Harvard Law Review essay “Taking Text and Structure Seriously: Reflections on the Free-Form Method in Constitutional Interpretation.”

Lots 28 and 62: Leibovitz, Sontag and Steinem

Two books inscribed with Ginsburg are symbols of the influence she had on the world at large for women who benefited from her example and the paths she blazed.

Steinem’s book, “My Life on the Road”, is inscribed: “To dearest Ruth – who paved the road for us all – with a lifetime of gratitude – Gloria.”

It’s also fetching a pretty penny. Tuesday night bidding was at $18,000 and climbing. (Bonham’s valuation: $300 to $500.)

Annie Leibovitz and Susan Sontag presented Ginsburg with a copy of their book “Women,” which includes a double-page spread with RBG and the first female Supreme Court justice, Sandra Day O’Connor. (The book came out in 1999; it would be another 10 years before another woman joined the bench.)

Lot 38: ‘Beloved’

A reissue of Toni Morrison’s classic dedicated to Ruth and Marty Ginsburg. Yes please.

Lots 32, 36, 39, 56, 71 and more: Books of other judges

Supreme Court justices are prolific writers on and off the bench, so it’s no surprise that Ginsburg has copies of his colleagues’ books on his shelves.

For sale are books donated to him by Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Neil Gorsuch and former Justice John Paul Stevens.
Perhaps the most amusing is lot 50: “Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir”, by Stevens. According to the auction house, RBG made minor corrections to the book even after it was published, and someone (Bonhams acknowledges it could have been a clerk) “flagged his appearances with green tabs.”

Lot 54: A Gift from Scalia

Scalia and Ginsburg were famous friends despite opposing each other on the bench for more than two decades. Scalia’s note with a copy of her book “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts,” with Bryan Garner, was short and sweet: “For your summer reading. Sincerely, Nino.”

Now, a verbatim reading of the note might imply that it could only be read in the summer, and specifically in the summer of 2012. But it’s a book, and why should people be restricted from reading it or reference it at any other time of the year? Who would enforce a law on what people consent to read at home? Finally, the note raises the question of whether buyers can’t read the book at all, given that it was a note from Scalia to Ginsburg in 2012 and says nothing about the year 2022 or mentions the idea of ​​a third party looking at the book.

Lot 138: Love and marriage

This 10-book bundle is called “Grief and Widowhood,” but what it really does is celebrate Marty Ginsburg and Ruth Bader’s 50-plus-year marriage, which began with early days at Harvard and ended with his death in 2010.

There’s an autographed copy of Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” the late author’s 2006 book about the year after her husband’s death, autographed to Marty and Ruth.

“Wedding Days. When and How Great Marriages Began”, by Susan J. Gordon, has a section on the Ginsburg relationship. The inscription: “To Ruth and Martin, loving partners in their own great marriage.”

Lot 143: The stars come out

What do Tina Fey, Alec Guinness and Padma Lakshmi have in common? They’re all here in numerous books (and a DVD!) of celebrity memoirs and biographies.

The set includes a copy of Fey’s “Bossypants,” given to Ginsburg by a former clerk (a rarity among the sold collection), two copies of “Along the Way,” by Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez, and Diane von “The woman I wanted to be” by Furstenberg.

Lot 151: Woodward and Bernstein

This lot celebrates journalists and investigative journalism, including the two Bob Woodward-Carl Bernstein blockbusters, ‘All the President’s Men’ and ‘The Final Days’.

Fascinating to some legal observers will be RBG’s copy of “The Brethren,” by Woodward and Scott Armstrong. Published in 1979, it was a startling behind-the-scenes account of the Supreme Court as justices handed down landmark decisions. Judges then – and now – prefer to let their writings be the final word and keep their deliberations and projects private.

But hurry, the auction ends Thursday.

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