It is now a fixture of mainstream commentary in the United States that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a popular idol on the political left. Yet, while Justice Ginsburg’s image and story has reached an unprecedented level of valorization and even commercialization, scholars have yet to give sustained attention to the phenomenon and to contextualize it: why has this idolization emerged within this context, and what is its impact? This paper situates her portrayal in the cultural imagination as the product of two political forces, namely partisanship and identity politics. Considering parallel scholarly discourses of reputation, celebrity, and mythology in the legal context, and comparing the figure of Justice Ginsburg to the construction of other justices (historic and contemporary) in elite and popular discourse, the paper examines how this phenomenon represents both a continuity and break for the cultural position of judges in America.
Moran, Lucille, "Notoriously Ruthless: The Idolization of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg" (2019). Political Science Honors Projects. 80.
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