You probably know about many of Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s accomplishments since she was appointed as a Supreme Court justice by President Bill Clinton in 1993. In her tenure, R.B.G. has penned dozens of court opinions in SCOTUS cases concerning abortion, same-sex marriage, and gender discrimination, and, recently, made headlines for the unbelievably grueling workout she does several times a week at the age of 85 and her chic scrunchies. Though her years on the Supreme Court has been the subject of several books and movies, the latest film to depict Justice Ginsburg, On the Basis of Sex, focuses instead on her early career, showing the origins of the Notorious R.B.G.
As seen in the film’s first trailer, released Monday, Felicity Jones plays a 1970s-era Ruth Bader Ginsburg, still in the early stages of her law career after starting a family with her husband Martin Ginsburg (played by Armie Hammer) and graduating at the top of her class at Columbia Law School. Though she faces countless setbacks to pursuing her dream of practicing law — one potential (white male) employer tells her that “women are too emotional to be lawyers,” while another says “a woman graduating top of her class must be a real ball-buster” — she eventually lands a position at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she would go on to found the Women’s Rights Project and, in 1973, become the organization’s general counsel.
During her time at the ACLU, Ginsburg set her sights on systematically striking down laws that discriminated against women “on the basis of sex.” The film appears to focus primarily on the 1975 case Weinberger v. Wiesenfeld, in which Ginsburg argued against a statute that awarded Social Security tax benefits to widows but not to widowers, operating under the sexist assumption that a man was a family’s sole breadwinner and thus wouldn’t need any financial help if his wife died. In the trailer, Ginsburg’s husband, a tax lawyer, introduces her to the case, which she quickly takes on, believing it has the ability to “topple the whole damn system of discrimination,” despite a lack of faith from a fellow ACLU lawyer and other (white male) lawmakers.
Watch the trailer for On the Basis of Sex, below.
Of course, Ginsburg successfully argued the case, with the Supreme Court ruling that the statute in question violated the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, and Ginsburg continuing her work to pave the way toward gender equality. In a neat follow-up, nearly 40 years later, Ginsburg acted as officiant in the wedding of her client in the case, Stephen Wiesenfeld.
On the Basis of Sex, which also stars Justin Theroux and Kathy Bates, hits theaters in December.