Notorious RBG’s law school textbook set to fetch over £7k at auction

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By Aishah Hussain on

Has scores of handwritten notes in the margins

Ruth Bader Ginsburg — via Wikimedia Commons — Supreme Court of the United States, (Photographer: Steve Petteway)

A law school textbook once belonging to US Supreme Court legend Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who sadly passed away aged 87 in September of last year, is expected to pull in more than $10,000 (£7,200) at auction.

If you’re in the market to get your hands on a piece of legal history, Heritage Auctions, a collectibles auction house and one of the largest in the States, has for sale RBG’s very own textbook full of notes from her days at Columbia Law School.

The book, The French Legal System — An Introduction to Civil Law Systems, has scores of handwritten notes in both ink and pencil in the margins and pages of underlined text (pre-highlighter days!) The blue cloth hardback also has a bookplate which states that it originates “From the Library of Ruth & Martin Ginsburg”.

Heritage Auctions says it “represents the only annotated scholarly book on law belonging to Ginsburg that we have encountered”.

Credit: Heritage Auctions,

“Her character and personality entertained many, but her persona grew out of her legal prowess, which started in books like this one,” Sandra Palomino, historical manuscripts director at Heritage Auction, told Above the Law, which first reported the story. “Her handwritten notes offer a glimpse into her mind when she was just beginning to pursue a career in law, making this book an exceptional find for anyone who collects legal or historical documents.”

The late Justice Ginsburg is widely considered to be the US’ Lady Hale. ‘The Notorious RBG’, as she is often called, began her legal career at Harvard Law School in the fall of 1956, where she was one of only nine women among a class of 500 men. When husband Martin Ginsburg took a job in New York City, Ginsburg transferred to Columbia Law School. She graduated in 1959, tying for first in her class, beginning an extraordinary career leading to her 1993 nomination by President Bill Clinton as an associate justice of the US Supreme Court where she would serve until her death in September 2020.

Ginsburg spent much of her legal career as an advocate for women’s rights and gender equality and became an American popular culture icon for her liberal interpretation of law.

The current bid for RBG’s textbook is $7,250 (£5,200). The final auction takes place on Wednesday 19 May.

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