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Dinners with Ruth

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Dinners with Ruth

A Memoir on the Power of Friendships

Simon & Schuster,

15 min read
6 take-aways
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What's inside?

Journalist Nina Totenberg connected with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before either became famous. 

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Over the course of her career, National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg has built a distinguished journalism portfolio and a family of friends she describes with insight and warmth, including fellow journalists Cokie Roberts and Linda Wertheimer, and Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia, Lewis Powell and William Brennan, as well as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The author and Ginsburg began their careers in male-dominated fields at the same time. They connected when Totenburg interviewed Ginsburg for a story and embarked on a long friendship encompassing Ginsburg’s tenure as a Supreme Court justice. This engaging narrative covers many colorful personalities, Totenburg’s personal history with Ginsburg, and the importance of friendship and love.   


The friendship between Nina Totenberg and Ruth Bader Ginsburg started with the lawyer explaining why the 14th Amendment should cover equal protection for women.

The last time in their 50 years of friendship that Nina Totenberg saw Ruth Bader Ginsburg, they shared their regular dinner of bouillabaisse at Totenberg’s home. Their relationship predated Totenberg’s fame as NPR’s legal affairs correspondent and Ginsburg’s appointment to the US Supreme Court. 

Ginsburg met Totenberg when she sought clarity about a Supreme Court brief Ginsburg wrote for the ACLU about the Reed v. Reed case. Ginsburg asserted that a law automatically giving men preference over women as “state executors” was unconstitutional, because the 14th Amendment guarantees “equal protection under the law to all persons,” and this law discriminated against women. In 1971, the idea of women as “persons” was revolutionary, but the Supreme Court sided with Ginsburg’s brief and for the first time declared that the equal protection clause covers women.

Although women could vote, banks and employers limited their economic power. Even ...

About the Author

NPR’s legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg has won numerous journalism awards, American Bar Association awards for excellence in legal reporting, and more than 24 honorary degrees.

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