News | May 20, 2021

RBG’s Annotated Columbia Law School Book Sold for $18,125

Courtesy of Heritage Auctions,

A Columbia Law School textbook once owned and full of notes by former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Dallas, TX — A Columbia Law School textbook once owned and full of notes by former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the unquestioned giants of the U.S. legal system sold, for $18,125 in Heritage Auctions’ Manuscripts Auction May 19. An exceptional artifact from RBG's early legal career, the keepsake represents the only annotated scholarly book on law belonging to Ginsburg ever offered at auction.

The auction price well exceeded pre-auction estimates that it would sell for $10,000. The winning bidder does not wish to be identified at this time.

The heavily annotated Columbia Law School Book, The French Legal System – An Introduction to Civil Law Systems is one of the texts that helped to launch the career of a pioneer in the battle for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights, who changed the role of women in the legal world.

In both ink and pencil, Columbia law student RBG underlined portions of 120 pages and added scores of handwritten notes in the margins. A few excerpts: "Career judic[iary]...Law prof & practitioners can in theory be applied but rare in practice...Written const[itution]. as expression of polit[ical] program of regime not fund[amental]. Unchanging outline of structure of gov't & basic civ[il] lib[ertie]s...fear of strong exec[utive]...distrust of judges...pre-em of Nat'l Assembly...both- life tenure for judges...Sep[aration] of powers means indep[endent] - not checks & balances...purpose of sep[aration] of power in Fr[ance]...self restraint...Sep[aration] of powers means indep[endent] of each from the other, not checks & balances...Const[itutuional] law re. validity of legis[lation] arises prior to of indiv[idual] R[igh]ts Not const[itutional] law...Indiv[idual] lib[erties] based on statutes."
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