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Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Release Spoken-Word Album

By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on April 01, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been many things in her long life: an activist, an advocate, a disc jockey, an opera star, not to mention a Supreme Court justice. Now, she's about to add another row to her resume: Justice Ginsburg, spoken-word artist.

That's right, Her Notoriousness has been working on a short spoken-word album, the justice revealed last night at a speech at the Kennedy Center. "Some thoughts can't be expressed in a majority opinion," Ginsburg explained. "Or in an opera, for that matter."

The Notorious RBG's Secret Love for Spoken Word

Some RGB fans might be confused (though still thrilled) by the justice's chosen medium. Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a spoken-word artist? This high culture aficionado who seems more drawn to orchestras and opera houses?

But in fact, Justice Ginsburg has had a late-in-life love affair with spoken word for some time. Her majority opinion in United States v. Virginia was highly influenced by her introduction to underground poetry slams, she said. In 1994, the justice became a regular attendee at the spoken-word show held in the basement of Washington, D.C.'s Busboys and Poets U Street location, after one of her law clerks took her to witness the National Poetry Slam.

Since then, she's been refining her craft among a small circle of poets, lawyers, beatniks, and angsty high schoolers. Justices Alito, Kagan, and Breyer have all attended performances with her, she said, but none fell in love with spoken word as she had.

"There's just nothing quite like spoken word's mix of jazz poetry, hip-hop culture, and moving inflection," Justice Ginsburg explained.

Justice Ginsburg Previews Some Tracks

Justice Ginsburg's spoken-word album has yet to be titled, but is expected to be released sometime before April 1st next year. So as to not comment on cases that might reach the Supreme Court in the future, the justice says she's steered clear of rhapsodizing over Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or Rule23(b)(3).

She did give some hints as to what we can expect, though. Planned tracks include "It's Not a Neck Doily," the justice's response to being a woman in a male-dominated profession, "See You in New Zealand," a sly nod to her election feud with Donald Trump, and "Libretto for My Liberals," in which she praises her legal heroes.

This isn't a staid exercise, either. Justice Ginsburg's eponymous "Notorious" track quotes extensively from ODB's "Return to the 36 Chambers."

The album will be published by Wolters Kluwer, the legal textbook company, and will available as an additional insert in their Con Law II text. A vinyl edition is also planned.

Editor's Note: Of course, we kid. RBG is far too busy with her seriously intense workout schedule to actually release a spoken-word album. Happy April Fool's Day!

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