WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed Saturday that actress Natalie Portman, who will soon play the justice in a film about her feminist legal work in the 1970s, held up the project for one very relevant reason: Portman wanted a female director.
“Natalie Portman came to talk to me about this, and we had a very good conversation,” Ginsburg told her former clerk, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, at the American Constitution Society convention in Washington. “And one thing, interesting, that she insisted on, it held up the project for awhile. She said, ‘I want the director to be a woman. There are not enough women in this industry. There are many talented out there.’ And now they do have a woman director.”
In May, Deadline Hollywood reported that Marielle Heller, whose recent debut was Diary of a Teenage Girl, was in negotiations to direct.
The script was written by the nephew of Ginsburg’s late husband Martin Ginsburg. “He asked if he could write a script about a case in which Marty and I were involved in 1971,” Ginsburg said, “and I said, ‘Yes, if you like to spend your time doing that.’” The case involved Charles Moritz, a never-married man denied a tax deduction because only women or divorced men were considered caregivers under the law. Ginsburg hoped that, paired with a case involving a woman, the justices would see that sex discrimination harmed everyone, but only the woman’s case, Reed v. Reed, made it to the Supreme Court.
Liu also asked Ginsburg about the outpouring of interest, particularly among young women, in the liberal justice. (That includes a forthcoming book about Ginsburg’s life by this reporter.) “It’s amazing,” Ginsburg said. “To think of me, an icon, at 82?”
Ginsburg also offered a window into a much-disputed question: Do the justices ever persuade each other to change their minds? “Possible? Yes,” Ginsburg said. “Is it something that happens often? No.” She said such persuasion usually happens during the writing of opinions, both majority and dissent. ”It is largely on paper,” she said. “It is, read my dissent. Read carefully. You should be persuaded by it.”