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.
Passages are underlined and annotated, so if you were hoping for a blank 1940 version by Cornelius Moynihan”A preliminary study of real estate law“, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Lot 3: The Harvard Law Review of 1957-1958

For Harvard Law Review finalists, there is Annotated copy of RBG’s year on 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 the American book markets by storm, but the field of civil procedure was where she would focus for the rest of her 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 Batch 103 — a collection of Swedish law books.
As well Batch 75 — a collection of photos of the end of justice in Sweden from 2019.

Lots 16 and 33: honorary certificates in Latin

For Smith College and brown university graduates, libraries, or alumni societies, RBG’s 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” bears the inscription: “To dearest Ruth – who paved the way 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 enrolled at 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 given to him by the judges Clarence Thomas, Stephane Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Neil Gorsuch and former judge John Paul Stevens.
Lot 50 is perhaps the most fun: “Five Counts: A Brief from the Supreme Court”, 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. Note from Scalia with a copy of his book “Reading the 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 set of 10 books is called “Mourning and widowhood”, but what he’s really doing is celebrating the more than 50-year marriage of Marty Ginsburg and Ruth Bader, which began with the 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 are all here in many 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 famous batch journalists and investigative journalismincluding 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.

Colin L. Johnson