Directed by: Mimi Leder
Starring: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Sam Waterston, Kathy Bates
Genre: Drama, Biography
Release date: 04 January 2019
Running Time: 120 Minutes
The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her struggles for equal rights, and what she had to overcome in order to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
On The Basis Of Sex Movie Profile
On the Basis of Sex is a 2018 American biographical legal drama film based on the life and early cases of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Directed by Mimi Leder and written by Daniel Stiepleman, it stars Felicity Jones as Ginsburg, with Armie Hammer, Justin Theroux, Jack Reynor, Cailee Spaeny, Sam Waterston, and Kathy Bates in supporting roles.
The film had its world premiere at the AFI Fest on November 8, 2018, and was released in the United States on December 25, 2018, by Focus Features. The film received generally favorable reviews from critics, who acknowledged it as “well-intentioned but flawed”, and praised Jones’ performance.
On The Basis Of Sex Movie Trailer
On The Basis Of Sex Movie Plot
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a first-year student at Harvard Law School. When her husband Martin, a second-year student, falls ill with cancer, she attends both her classes and his, taking notes and transcribing lectures while caring for Martin and their infant daughter Jane.
Two years later Martin, his cancer in remission, is hired by a firm in New York. Ruth petitions Harvard Law School Dean Griswold to allow her to finish her Harvard law degree with classes at Columbia, but he insists on following Harvard University policies at the time and denies her request, so she transfers to Columbia. In spite of graduating at the top of her class, she is unable to find a position with a law firm because none of the firms she applies to wants to hire a woman. She takes a job as a professor at Rutgers Law School, teaching “The Law And Sex Discrimination”.
In 1970, Martin brings a tax law case to Ruth’s attention. Charles Moritz is a man from Denver who had to hire a nurse to help him care for his aging mother so he could continue to work. Moritz was denied a tax deduction for the nursing care because at the time Section 214 of the Internal Revenue Code specifically limited the deduction to “a woman, a widower or divorce, or a husband whose wife is incapacitated or institutionalized”. The court ruled that Moritz, a man who had never married, did not qualify for the deduction. Ruth sees in this case an opportunity to begin to challenge the many laws enacted over the years that assume that men will work to provide for the family, and women will stay home and take care of the husband and children. She believes that if she can set a precedent ruling that a man was unfairly discriminated against on the basis of sex, that precedent can be cited in cases challenging laws that discriminate against women—and she believes that an appellate court composed entirely of male judges will find it easier to identify with a male appellant.
Ruth meets with Mel Wulf of the ACLU to try to enlist their help, but he turns her down. She also meets with activist and civil rights advocate Dorothy Kenyon, who is cold to the idea at first but later meets with Wulf in his office and convinces him to sign on. Ruth then flies to Denver to meet with Moritz, who agrees to let the Ginsburgs and ACLU represent him pro bono after Ruth convinces him that millions of people could potentially benefit. The Ginsburgs and Wulf file an appeal of Moritz’ denial with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Department of Justice Attorney James H. Bozarth asks to be the lead counsel for the defense. He does a computer search to find all of the sections of the US Code that deal with gender identity. His defense will contend that if section 214 is ruled unconstitutional, it will open the door to challenges to all of America’s gender-based laws. Ruth, having no courtroom experience, does poorly in a moot court, and Wulf convinces her to let Martin lead off arguing the tax law, with Ruth following up with equal protection arguments.
The government offers Moritz a settlement of one dollar. Ruth makes a counter-proposal: the government will pay Moritz the sum he claimed as a deduction, make a declaration that he did nothing wrong, and enter into the record that the gender-based portion of section 214 is unconstitutional. The government declines this offer, setting the stage for a trial.
At trial, Martin takes more of their side’s allotted time than he had intended. Ruth is nervous but makes several key points and reserves four minutes of her time for rebuttal. Bozarth frames the argument as defending the American way of life, implying that the Ginsburgs and ACLU want to “change the world” and maybe Moritz “just doesn’t want to pay his taxes.” In her rebuttal, Ruth states that the world is changing around them, and the law needs to change with it. Societal roles that existed one hundred years ago — or even twenty years ago — no longer apply.
Outside the courthouse, Wulf, Moritz and the Ginsburgs celebrate the fact that, win or lose, Ruth has finally found her voice as a lawyer. Titles over the closing scene indicate that the appellate court found unanimously in Moritz’s favor. Ruth went on to co-found the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU, which struck down many of the gender-based laws Bozarth identified, and in 1993 became an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. The final scene shows the real-life Ginsburg walking up the steps of the Supreme Court building.