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NOTEBOOK – ONE GOOD READ: More on Ruth Bader Ginsburg


Over the weekend, Nina Totenberg, National Public Radio’s award-winning legal affairs correspondent, wrote about her longtime friend, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week. 

Before the two were friends, Ginsburg was a news source for Totenberg, who first reached out to the then-Rutgers University law professor in 1971. What had caught Totenberg’s attention was a brief that had been filed with the Supreme Court in what would become the landmark case of Reed v. Reed. The brief, written by Ginsburg, argued that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause applied to women.

“By the time I hung up an hour later [from interviewing Ginsburg], I was so full of information that I was like a goose whose innards were ready for foie gras,” wrote Totenberg in her obituary of Ginsburg.

In the following years, Totenberg called Ginsburg often for explanations of cases. The two became both professional and personal friends. 

Totenberg shares several stories about Ginsburg in the obituary, but this one sticks out:

In 1988, the Cosmos Club, then a male-only organization, voted to admit women and Totenberg was proposed to one of its first female members. She was blackballed and didn’t get in. “I was really hurt, and I must have told Ruth about it,” writes Totenberg.

Several years later Ginsburg was invited to visit the club, and at the end of her tour she was invited to become a member. 

Writes Totenberg: “As the story was related to me, Ruth paused, and in that quiet, low voice of hers, said to her escort, ‘You know, I think that a club that is too good for Nina Totenberg is too good for me, too.’”

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