The Law Library of Congress has had a long relationship with the Supreme Court of the United States and its justices. Since the Law Library’s founding in 1832, the justices have had free access to the Law Library, and to this day, the chief justice has the authority to direct the purchases of the Law Library. The Law Library is also one of ten Supreme Court depository libraries in the country, collecting the records and briefs submitted to the court as well as decisions issued by it. In light of this history, we thought we could best honor Supreme Court Associate Justice Ginsburg’s life by providing information on the items in our collections by and about the Justice.
The place to begin finding works by and about Justice Ginsburg is through the Library’s catalog. We first searched for her as an author and found a number of items in the Library’s collection. Her three earliest works are on Swedish law. As her New York Times obituary noted, Justice Ginsburg spent seven years in the 1960s working on a comparative law project at Columbia University Law School. The first book produced in this project was Civil Procedure in Sweden, co-authored by Anders Bruzelius and published in 1965. A note on the catalog record states that the book is the “First of a series to be prepared by the Project on International Procedure of the Columbia University School of Law.”
The second book Justice Ginsburg worked on was The Swedish Code of Judicial Procedure. Justice Ginsburg and co-author Bruzelius translated this code from Swedish into English as part of another series, The American Series of Foreign Penal Codes. Her third book was on Scandinavian law, but by 1974 her work pivoted to U.S. law and issues of sex discrimination. In 1974, she co-authored a textbook, Text, Cases and Materials on Sex-based Discrimination. The first chapter of this book, which was written by Justice Ginsburg, was published simultaneously as a separate, shorter work. Later books by Justice Ginsburg include more autobiographical material such as My Own Words, but in keeping with her early interests in the laws of other countries, she also wrote a foreword to a book about German constitutional jurisprudence.
During the 1970s, Justice Ginsburg became head of the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project. In this position, she wrote briefs and argued cases for the ACLU before the U.S. Supreme Court. These cases include Reed v. Reed 404 U.S. 71, Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, and Duren v. Missouri, 439 U.S. 357. Duren was the last case she argued before the Supreme Court before being appointed as a judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. A page of her notes in preparation of oral argument in Duren was part of the Library’s Drawing Justice exhibit. The text of the briefs written by Justice Ginsburg are part of our Supreme Court depository collection. They are available in print and microfiche and can be ordered in the Law Library’s Reading Room when we reopen. The Law Library of Congress also has in its collections transcripts for oral arguments before the Supreme Court. The Law Library has a research guide that provides more detailed information about locating Supreme Court records and briefs and oral argument transcripts.
In 1980, Justice Ginsburg was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, followed in 1993 by her appointment to the Supreme Court. Much of her work in these years can be found in the decisions she wrote as a judge. The Law Library holds texts of the published decisions, with the appellate decisions in the Federal Reporter and the Supreme Court decisions in the United States (U.S.) Reports. The Law Library has digitized the U.S. Reports and made it possible to retrieve all the decisions written by a justice. The Law Library has created a guide, How to Find Free Case Law Online, which can be used to search for appellate court decisions crafted by Justice Ginsburg.
As well as being an author of various books, Justice Ginsburg is also the subject of materials found across the Library’s collections, including children’s books, drawings and photographs , a musical recording, a movie, and even a comic book. She also featured in the Law Library’s blog several times. The first instance was the description of a tour given by our former colleague Pamela Barnes Craig to the Justice. A more recent blog was about a mock appeal of Shylock at which she presided in June 2017. And the Library’s National Book Festival blog covered her participation in last year’s National Book Festival.
We must caution that the Library is still closed to the public. However, we hope that when we reopen, you will visit the Law Library and other Library research centers to explore our varied collections by and about Justice Ginsburg.