On the Basis of Sex, out in limited release December 25, depicts Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her pre-Supreme Court days. The movie catches Ginsburg back when she was a 24-year-old superhero. In 1956, at the age of 24, Ginsburg (Felicity Jones in the film) was balancing a near impossible set of pressures: She was one of nine women students at Harvard Law School. She was caring for her husband, Martin Ginsburg (Armie Hammer in the movie), who was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer (and was still in law school). Finally, she was the mother to a toddler, Jane Ginsburg.
The film spans from 1956, when Ginsburg was a first-year in law school, to 1972, after she delivered a ground-breaking argument against gender discrimination. Given the limited timespan, there’s a lot we don’t get to see about what happens next in the Ginsburg family's lives — including which of the Ginsburgs' two children continued in the family tradition of law.
What happened to Jane Ginsburg?
Jane was born in 1955, right before her parents began Harvard Law School. In an interview with The Atlantic, Ginsburg credited Jane for helping her maintain perspective while she was a law student. “I think I had better balance, better sense of proportions of what matters,” she said. "I felt each part of my life gave me respite from the other.”
Jane was steeped in the law from a young age. So, would it surprise you if we revealed that Jane has gone on to become an accomplished lawyer in her own right? Probably not. While at Harvard, Jane served on the Harvard Law Review, as did her mother. Now, Jane is an expert in copyright law and a professor at Columbia Law School. Jane also directs Columbia's Kernochan Center for Law, Media and the Arts. Like her mother, Jane married a lawyer. Her husband, George T. Spera, works for the New York firm Shearman & Sterling.
In an essay for Glamour, Jane's daughter, Clara Spera, spoke about her relationship to RBG — and her third birthday held at SCOTUS. "[M]y birthday party wasn’t held there to show off or because the Court’s such an impressive space; it was because she wanted me to know, from the age of three, that my grandmother, my Bubbie, worked there, and that I shouldn’t consider anything out of my reach," Clara wrote. It worked: She graduated from Harvard Law School in 2017 and currently clerks for a federal judge. Clara recently married Scottish actor Rory Boyd.
Clara's brother, Paul Spera, is also an actor. Paul lives in Paris and just married actress Francesca Sarah Toich. They have a daughter together — Ruth Bader Ginsburg's first great-grandchild. For the curious, you can see Paul in this very French Vogue eyewear advertisement.
Where is James Ginsburg now?
James, who was born in 1965, doesn't figure into the movie as much as his sister, Jane. Unlike his sister, James didn't follow in the family tradition of a career in law (though he did go to law school). Instead, he became a record label executive. Though perhaps James' love of music was genetic, too — Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a huge opera fan.
In 1989, when he was a first year in law school, James launched Cedille Records, a classic music label. Twenty years later, Cedille Records is going strong. In 2009, James was named Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune for his work championing Chicago's musicians. "Let's hear it for James Ginsburg. The Chicagoan is one of the last independent entrepreneurs in classical recording, a man who has stuck to his artistic vision and made a success of it at a time of market shrinkage and industry downsizing," the article began. Fittingly, James is married to a musician. His wife is soprano and composer Patrice Michaels.
Clearly, your burning question is: Did James create a sonic tribute to his mother? The answer: A resounding yes. James produced the 2018 album Notorious RBG in Song, an opera sung by Patrice Michaels that tells the Supreme Court Justice's life story.
Essentially, the very accomplished Ginsburg family is as much family goals as Martin and Ruth are couple goals.