Coauthor of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's final book reflects on her mentor's legacy

Professor Amanda L. Tyler spent much of 2020 working with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on a book they both hoped to see published.

"She just kept going as long as her body would let her," Tyler, a former law clerk to the late Ginsburg, said of her co-author.

Justice, Justice Thou Shalt Pursue: A Life's Work Fighting for a More Perfect Union (University of California Press), released this week, is a collection of Ginsburg's own favorite works that she handpicked while waging her fifth — and final — fight with cancer.

"I just thought she was invincible and even knowing what I knew, when the news came that she had passed, it was a shock," Tyler said. "It was absolutely devastating."

But with the outpouring of grief from Ginsburg's death last September came a renewed focus on her lifelong pursuit for equality in the law, all chronicled in the greatest hits of Ginsburg's writings as a lawyer and judge that she and Tyler put in the book.

Yet Ginsburg's only majority opinion they included was her 1996 decision requiring Virginia Military Institute to admit female cadets.

But over the years, the liberal Ginsburg more often found herself dissenting from the court's conservative majority in politically-charged cases. And she picked three of those dissents for the book, including one in which she successfully called on Congress to help women whose jobs long robbed them of fair pay. Another one — later earning her the nickname "Notorious R.B.G" — blasted her colleagues for effectively nullifying a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

"She chose them on purpose because she wanted people to understand that there's still a lot of work to do," Tyler said.

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Ginsburg's vision of the law may now be even harder to reach after her death allowed then-President Donald Trump to create a six-justice conservative supermajority on the court.

But that didn't stop Ginsburg's native Brooklyn from honoring her this Women's History Month with her name on the borough's Municipal Building and an R.B.G. statue at City Point.

Still, Tyler said a picture, now in the book, of a young child dressed in a Supergirl costume saluting the late justice's casket at the Supreme Court represents Ginsburg's greatest legacy.

"I just love that picture because it's a picture that shows that she's going to keep inspiring future generations and I think that she would have loved," Tyler said.