Object List: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

March 29, 2022

Jane and James Ginsburg, the late Justice’s children, are donating the following artifacts to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in 2022. They represent her Supreme Court career, including four of the distinctive collars that she used to customize the traditional robes and signal her opinions on court decisions, as well as how she was depicted in American popular culture. Ginsburg was nominated by President Clinton in 1993 and became the second woman to serve as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Please contact the Office of Communications and Marketing at NMAHCommunications@si.edu with any questions.

Photo credit: Photos by Jaclyn Nash, courtesy of the National Museum of American History

· Judicial Robe from Maison Bosc, Paris

Justice Ginsburg ordered this black robe from Maison Blanc, a French firm in Paris that specializes in legal and academic dress. This robe, a lawyer’s style, was the one that she wore most often during her more than 25 years on the Court. Shown here with the “Dissent” collar. https://www.dropbox.com/s/87m2r8nio48bzei/JN2022-00086-2.jpg?dl=0

· Lace Judicial Collar

This white lace jabot or collar often adorned Ginsburg’s black dress robes during her time on the Supreme Court and it is the one that appears in a number of her official Supreme Court photographs (2001, 2003, 2009 and 2010). In a 2009 interview with The Washington Post, Ginsburg said, “The standard robe is made for a man because it has a place for the shirt to show, and the tie.” She and then fellow Justice Sandra Day O’Connor decided to incorporate their own style into the robes through jabots or lacy ruffles. https://www.dropbox.com/s/znrbjknpuwt8aot/%20JN2022-00085.jpg?dl=0

· “Majority” Collar

Justice Ginsburg received this beaded collar as a gift from her law clerks in 2006. It came from Anthropologie and she would often wear it when delivering the majority opinion at the Court. https://www.dropbox.com/s/xrlnoigh9pb8rkr/%20JN2022-00062.jpg?dl=0

· Decorative Polychrome Tiled Collar

This collar was a gift from the New Mexico Chapter of the International Women's Forum and was presented to Ginsburg at the New Mexico Supreme Court in 2016. Ginsburg wore it in the official Court photo in 2017. https://www.dropbox.com/s/4dpuhw5v2za127s/%20JN2022-00065.jpg?dl=0

· “Dissent” Collar

This collar became one of Justice Ginsburg's most famous and is from clothing outfitter Banana Republic. She received the bib style necklace that she repurposed as a collar at the Glamour Women of the Year Awards in 2012. https://www.dropbox.com/s/tgq5mkwiixka19l/%20JN2022-00063.jpg?dl=0

· Cross Leather Soft Brief Case with Gold RBG Initials

This soft black leather brief case bears the Justice’s initials, RBG. https://www.dropbox.com/s/klqcgbh6txddwnt/%20JN2022-00081.jpg?dl=0

· 12 Briefs for Cases Argued by Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a Lawyer

Before she was a judge and a justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued cases as an attorney. She argued six cases before the Supreme Court. In her chambers she kept briefs for four of the cases that she argued before the Supreme Court – Frontiero v. Richardson, Kahn v. Shevin, Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, and Edwards v. Healy as well as two cases she had argued before a lower court including Moritz v. Commissioner, a case of gender discrimination made famous in the film “On the Basis of Sex.”

· Copy of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 Framed with a Photograph of President Obama Signing the Legislation

Justice Ginsburg dissented in the 2007 court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. As the then only woman on the court, she did not agree with the ruling that Lilly Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination and she called on Congress to act. “The ball is in Congress’ court … to correct this Court’s parsimonious reading of Title VII,” she said. This addition to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act amended the statute of limitations on discrimination claims in the workplace. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ub3t2e4vbr44j5e/%20JN2022-00083.jpg?dl=0

· “Justice Ginsburg” Name Plate

This nameplate identified Justice Ginsburg’s library cart which was often found in her office and filled with an assortment of law books and bound opinions she would use for research purposes. https://www.dropbox.com/s/5815t3e3g048rcu/%20JN2022-00069.jpg?dl=0

· Federal and Supreme Court Years of Service Pins

Justice Ginsburg spent forty years in government service, twenty-seven of them on the Supreme Court. These pins mark her years of service.

· Two copies of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s book “My Own Words”

Ginsburg and her biographers, Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams, collected pieces of her writing dating back to the 8th grade and assembled them into this book published by Simon & Schuster in October 2016.

· Bobblehead Doll

The Green Bag: An Entertaining Journal of Law produces bobblehead figures of the justices that include allusions to notable cases. Ginsburg’s bobblehead includes references her opinions on United States v. Virginia and Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. https://www.dropbox.com/s/7ce5mxd2ri4jubu/%20JN2022-00061.jpg?dl=0

· MTV Movie Award, Best Real-Life Hero – “RBG” June 17, 2019

The MTV Awards feature creative categories, such as “most meme-able moment." After the 2018 release of “RBG,” a documentary film about Ginsburg’s life and work, MTV viewers voted her the recipient of the first ever award for “best real-life hero.” https://www.dropbox.com/s/ows8wfcjiiq4vtx/%20JN2022-00060.jpg?dl=0

· 2015 Framed Lego Figures of Women of the Supreme Court

Author and Deputy Editor at MIT News Maia Weinstock created this custom LEGO set, which she called the Legal Justice League. It features the four women who had been named to the country’s highest legal bench: Ginsburg, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

· Image of an RBG Tattoo

One of the most unusual tributes to Justice Ginsburg was sent by a fan who shared a photo of a tattoo they had seen. The image demonstrates the late Justice’s pop culture status, as well as her sense of humor, as she hung this artwork in her chamber’s powder room. https://www.dropbox.com/s/dnle2v8l8hwjp7a/%20JN2022-00068.jpg?dl=0

· Andy Warhol Style Pop Print of RBG

The image of Justice Ginsburg, affectionately known as “The Notorious R.B.G.,” has been recreated in dozens of famous templates and styles. This pop art piece exhibits the cultural impact she made during her lifetime and how she served as a feminist inspiration and role model.

· Cartoon of Justices Scalia and Ginsburg “I Dissent, No I Dissent”

Justices Antonin Scalia and Ginsburg were famously friendly despite sitting on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum. Their shared love of opera and frequent vacations together made them the “odd couple” of Washington, D.C. This illustration by Elizabeth Baddeley appeared in the book, I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark.” https://www.dropbox.com/s/yf3a2xrch2v3qy7/%20JN2022-00067.jpg?dl=0

· Movie Poster “On the Basis of Sex” signed by actors, including Felicity Jones, Kathy Bates, Sam Waterston et al

The 2018 film, directed by Mimi Leder and written by Justice Ginsburg’s nephew, Daniel Stiepleman, chronicles the start of her career as a lawyer. https://www.dropbox.com/s/d6gvhtxssjud252/%20JN2022-00082.jpg?dl=0

· Blank Letterhead and Notecards from Justice Ginsburg’s Chambers

· Memorial Cards for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Lying in Repose at the Supreme Court of the United Sates, September 23-24, 2020

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