(CNN)New York Attorney General Letitia James announced she will attempt to dissolve the National Rifle Association, accusing its senior leadership of violating laws governing non-profit groups, using millions from the organization’s reserves for personal use and tax fraud. In a news release Thursday morning, James, a Democrat, alleged that current and former NRA leadership “instituted a culture of self-dealing mismanagement” benefiting themselves, family, friends and favored vendors, leading the organization to lose more than $63 million in three years. “The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James said, adding that her office would be forwarding the complaint to the IRS. The suit, filed in New York Supreme Court, names NRA executives including CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, General Counsel and Secretary John Frazer, former Chief Financial Officer Wilson “Woody” Phillips and former Chief of Staff and Executive Director of General Operations Josh Powell. James’ office stated that while the NRA has headquarters in the Northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, DC, the organization has operated as a New York-registered 501(c)(4) group since 1871.The NRA and the NRA Foundation, a separate entity, were also sued Thursday in a separate case by Washington, DC, Attorney General Karl Racine, who alleges the foundation’s board allowed the NRA to raid the foundation’s reserves in order to address the NRA’s cash flow problems, and fund the lavish expenses of its leadership. The NRA filed a countersuit in federal court alleging that the attorney general is hampering the organization’s right to free speech in a manner that “threatens to destabilize the NRA and chill the speech of the NRA, its members, and other constituents.” In a statement to CNN, NRA President Carolyn Meadows called the New York suit a “baseless premeditated attack on our organization and the Second Amendment freedoms it fights to defend. It’s a transparent attempt to score political points and attack the leading voice in opposition to the leftist agenda.” The lawsuit marks an ambitious attempt by James to end one of the nation’s most influential interest groups, one that has increasingly played an outsized role in Republican politics. The NRA reports that it has about 5 million members across the country, and works to defend Americans’ Second Amendment right to bear arms and has turned increasingly political in recent years — particularly in its political operation’s support of President Donald Trump.The lawsuit accuses the NRA of violating multiple laws including false reporting of annual filings with the IRS and New York’s charities bureau, improperly documenting expenses, improper wage and income tax reporting and excessively paying people for work for which they were not qualified.Many of the charges stem from the NRA’s status as a charitable organization, which has strict state and federal rules governing spending.The suit also asks the court to order LaPierre and other executives named in the suit to make full restitution for funds from which they “unlawfully profited” and salaries they earned while employees; to remove LaPierre and Frazer from the NRA’s leadership; and ensure that none of the executives can ever serve on the board of any charity in New York. James’ office confirmed it was investigating the NRA in 2019, after reporting by The Trace alleged that a small group of executives, contractors and vendors affiliated with the the group extracted hundreds of millions from the non-profit’s budget. ‘A culture of self-dealing, mismanagement and negligent oversight’The suit alleges NRA leadership used millions upon millions from the group’s reserves to fund lavish trips on private jets, meals and other personal expenses, and that money was diverted to benefit NRA insiders and favored vendors, and that LaPierre handpicked associates including to “facilitate his misuse of charitable assets.” The suit alleges LaPierre secured a post-employment “poison pill contract” for a total of $17 million, and that there was no evidence that the NRA’s board or audit committee reviewed or approved the deal. The contract obligates the NRA to pay LaPierre for years after he either lost reelection to his post or retired “at a higher rate than his compensation as Executive Vice President.”LaPierre was deposed in June and testified that he was aware of this aspect of the contract. “I noticed that and kind of shook my head at it when I saw it,” LaPierre recalled. “I didn’t ask for this contract. It’s what was presented to me and I signed it and it never went into effect because I stayed on as (executive vice president).” Among the spending, the suit alleges that LaPierre has spent millions of NRA funds on private plane trips for himself and his family — taking eight trips to the Bahamas with his family in a five-year period, and that he and his wife were gifted safaris in Africa and other parts of the world worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. LaPierre testified in a June deposition that it was NRA policy that he travel by private aircraft at all times for security reasons. In a statement to CNN, LaPierre called the lawsuit an attempt to “dismantle and destroy the NRA.””The NRA is well governed, financially solvent, and committed to good governance,” LaPierre said. Powell, the suit claims, was given pay increases at LaPierre’s direction, that tripled his salary in less than three years “despite complaints of abusive behavior, and evidence of illegal conduct and inappropriate spending.” It also alleges he secured contracts benefiting family members without disclosing they were related to him.Frazer, who serves as general counsel for the NRA, served only 18 months in private practice as an attorney, the suit alleges, claiming that he repeatedly failed to ensure that transactions between the NRA and individuals and vendors were being reviewed and whether they followed the laws that govern charitable organizations. The suit also alleges he allowed the NRA to secretly pay millions of dollars to several board members in the form of consulting arrangements that were not approved or disclosed to the board. LaPierre hired Phillips, who served as treasurer for 26 years until he retired in 2018. During his time, the suit alleges, he was aware that the NRA was paying a “travel consultant” for LaPierre more than $100,000 a year without a contract or authorization from NRA’s president. The consultant was tasked with making travel arrangements for LaPierre. In 2018, the NRA paid the unnamed woman $2.6 million. A tense time for the organization The NRA counter lawsuit claims that James is fulfilling campaign promises, citing past rhetoric in which they say she vowed to “strike foul blows against the NRA and pound the NRA into submission.”In the suit, the NRA denies James’ claims that top NRA executives have used the organization as their “personal piggy bank.”The NRA also denies the attorney general’s claims that the NRA is experiencing a financial deficit because of top executives’ abuse of funds and claims it cooperated in good faith with the investigation that began in 2019. The New York attorney general’s lawsuit punctuates a turbulent period for the nation’s foremost gun lobby.The organization was roiled by a bitter leadership battle last year all while navigating an evolving political landscape on guns shaped by mass shootings and increasingly powerful gun safety groups. The NRA had named Oliver North — whose name is synonymous with the Reagan-era Iran-Contra scandal — its president in 2018 as it grappled with a renewed push for gun control.But as the organization gathered for its annual meeting in 2019, the news broke that LaPierre had told the organization’s board he was being extorted and pressured to resign by North.The NRA later reelected LaPierre to his leadership position after North told NRA members — through a letter read during their annual meeting — that he had hoped to be renominated for a second term but had since been “informed that will not happen.”It was during that turmoil when the New York Attorney General’s Office confirmed an investigation into the group.”As part of this investigation, the Attorney General has issued subpoenas,” a spokesperson for James said in a statement to CNN at the time.This story has been updated with more details from the suit, comment from the NRA and details from the NRA’s counter suit.CNN’s Lauren DelValle and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this story.
Syria war: US deploys extra troops to Syria after Russia clashes
Publishedduration2 hours agoimage copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionA few hundred US troops remain in Syria’s north-eastThe US has ramped up its military presence in Syria after a number of skirmishes with Russian forces intensified tensions in the country.US officials said six Bradley Fighting Vehicles and about 100 troops were part of the deployment to north-east Syria.Incidents between US and Russian forces that patrol that part of the country have escalated this year.US Navy Captain Bill Urban said the move would “ensure the safety and security of Coalition forces”.He added that, alongside the fighting vehicles, which had been based in Kuwait, the US would also deploy a “Sentinel radar” and increase “the frequency of US fighter patrols over US forces”.”The United States does not seek conflict with any other nation in Syria, but will defend Coalition forces if necessary,” Mr Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command, said in a statement on Friday.Mr Urban did not mention Russia by name, but a separate statement from a US official, first reported by NBC News, was more pointed.”These actions and reinforcements are a clear signal to Russia to adhere to mutual de-confliction processes and for Russia and other parties to avoid unprofessional, unsafe and provocative actions in north-east Syria,” the unnamed US official said.NBC News cited officials as saying the troops and vehicles were sent to deter Russian forces from entering a security area, where US coalition and Kurdish forces were operating.Over the years, there have been frequent interactions between US and Russian forces in Syria. But in recent weeks, incidents in north-east Syria have become increasingly belligerent.At the end of August, seven American soldiers were injured in a collision with a Russian vehicle. The Russian and US governments blamed each other for the collision, which was filmed and posted to Twitter.image copyrightRusvesna.su/youtubeimage captionA clip of the incident was broadcast by Russian website Rusvesna.suThe US said Russian forces had entered a “security zone” that they had agreed to stay out of. Russia, meanwhile, said it had given the US military prior warning that it would be patrolling there.The US has about 500 troops in the area – far fewer than previously – to help secure it against any further threat from Islamic State (IS) jihadists. The The Russians back Syrian government forces while the Americans support local Kurdish fighters, part of a civil war that has convulsed the country since 2011.Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, has long opposed the presence of the US military in the country.In October 2019, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw 1,000 US troops that were operating in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance.Months later, Mr Trump said he had decided to keep a few hundred troops in the country to protect oil wells.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87
(CNN)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, the court announced. She was 87.Ginsburg was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and in recent years served as the most senior member of the court’s liberal wing, consistently delivering progressive votes on the most divisive social issues…
(CNN)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, the court announced. She was 87.Ginsburg was appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton and in recent years served as the most senior member of the court’s liberal wing, consistently delivering progressive votes on the most divisive social issues of the day, including abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, immigration, health care and affirmative action. Her death — less than seven weeks before Election Day — opens up a political fight over the future of the court. Addressing the liberal justice’s death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday evening, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”But Ginsburg told her granddaughter she wanted her replacement to be appointed by the next president, NPR reported. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she dictated to granddaughter Clara Spera days before her death. “She led an amazing life. What else can you say?” President Donald Trump said Friday evening upon hearing about her death. “She was an amazing woman whether you agree or not she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden praised Ginsburg as a “giant in the legal profession” and a “beloved figure,” saying in brief on-camera remarks Friday evening that people “should focus on the loss of the justice and her enduring legacy.””But there is no doubt, let me be clear that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” he added, saying that was the position of Republicans who refused to vote on then-President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016.Obama, in a statement mourning Ginsburg, also called for Senate Republicans to uphold the standard they set in 2016 when they blocked his nominee.”Over a long career on both sides of the bench — as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist — Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are — and who we can be,” Obama said in a statement.He added, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored. Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in.A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”Ginsburg developed a rock star status and was dubbed the “Notorious R.B.G.” In speaking events across the country before liberal audiences, she was greeted with standing ovations as she spoke about her view of the law, her famed exercise routine and her often fiery dissents.”Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” said Chief Justice John Roberts. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”Ginsburg, who died on the eve of the Jewish new year, was surrounded by her family at her home in Washington, DC, the court said. A private interment service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery.Ginsburg had suffered from five bouts of cancer, most recently a recurrence in early 2020 when a biopsy revealed lesions on her liver. She had said that chemotherapy was yielding “positive results” and that she was able to maintain an active daily routine.”I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she said in a statement in July 2020. “I remain fully able to do that.”She told an audience in 2019 that she liked to keep busy even when she was fighting cancer. “I found each time that when I’m active, I’m much better than if I’m just lying about and feeling sorry for myself,” she said in New York at the Yale Club at an event hosted by Moment Magazine. Ginsburg told another audience that she thought she would serve until she was 90 years old. Tiny in stature, she could write opinions that roared disapproval when she thought the majority had gone astray. Before the election of President Donald Trump, Ginsburg told CNN that he “is a faker” and noted that he had “gotten away with not turning over his tax returns.” She later said she regretted making the comments and Trump suggested she should recuse herself in cases concerning him. She never did. In 2011, by contrast, President Barack Obama singled out Ginsburg at a White House ceremony. “She’s one of my favorites,” he said, “I’ve got a soft spot for Justice Ginsburg.”The vacancy gives Trump the opportunity to further solidify the conservative majority on the court and fill the seat of a woman who broke through the glass ceiling at a time when few women attended law school with a different justice who could steer the court to the right on social issues.Ginsburg was well-known for the work she did before taking the bench, when she served as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union and became the architect of a legal strategy to bring cases to the courts that would ensure that the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied to gender. “I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer in the late 1960s when, for the first time in the history of the United States, it became possible to urge before courts, successfully, that society would benefit enormously if women were regarded as persons equal in stature to men,'” she said in a commencement speech in 2002.Once she took the bench, Ginsburg had the reputation of a “judge’s judge” for the clarity of her opinions that gave straightforward guidance to the lower courts. At the Supreme Court, she was perhaps best known for the opinion she wrote in United States v. Virginia, a decision that held that the all-male admissions policy at the state funded Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional for its ban on women applicants. “The constitutional violation in this case is the categorical exclusion of women from an extraordinary educational opportunity afforded men,” she wrote in 1996.Ginsburg faced discrimination herself when she graduated from law school in 1959 and could not find a clerkship. No one was more surprised than Ginsburg of the status she gained with young women in her late 70s and early 80s. She was amused by the swag that appeared praising her work, including a “You Can’t have the Truth, Without Ruth” T-shirt as well as coffee mugs and bobbleheads. Some young women went as far as getting tattoos bearing her likeness. A Tumblr dubbed her the “Notorious R.B.G.” in reference to a rap star known as “Notorious B.I.G.” The name stuck. One artist set Ginsburg’s dissent in a religious liberty case to music. “It makes absolute sense that Justice Ginsburg has become an idol for younger generations,” Justice Elena Kagan said at an event at the New York Bar Association in 2014. “Her impact on America and American law has been extraordinary.””As a litigator and then as a judge, she changed the face of American anti-discrimination law,” Kagan said. “She can take credit for making the law of this country work for women and in doing so she made possible my own career.” Ginsburg, even after her fifth diagnosis of cancer, was working on a book with one of her former clerks, Amanda Tyler. It was based on her life on gender equality.Dissents and strategyPart of Ginsburg’s renown came from her fierce dissents in key cases, often involving civil rights or equal protection.In 2007, the court heard a case concerning Lilly Ledbetter, who had worked as a supervisor at a Goodyear Tire plant in Alabama. Near the end of her career, Ledbetter discovered a pay disparity between her salary and the salaries of male co-workers. She filed a claim arguing she had received a discriminatorily low salary because of her sex, in violation of federal law. A majority of the court found against Ledbetter, ruling she had filed her complaints too late. Ginsburg wasn’t impressed with that reasoning. “The court’s insistence on immediate contest overlooks common characteristics of pay discrimination,” Ginsburg wrote, urging Congress to take up the issue, which it did in 2009.In 2015, it was Ginsburg who led the liberal block of the court as it voted in favor of same-sex marriage with the critical fifth vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kennedy wrote the opinion and it was joined by the liberals, who chose not to write separately. Ginsburg was likely behind that strategy and she said later that had she written the majority she might have put more emphasis on equal protection.After the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens, Ginsburg was the most senior of her liberal colleagues and she had the power to assign opinions when the chief justice was on the other side. She assigned herself an angry dissent when the court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013.”The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective,” she wrote. She compared racial discrimination to a “vile infection” and said early attempts to protect against it were like “battling the Hydra.” She also penned a partial dissent in a 2012 case concerning Obama’s health care law, disagreeing with the conservative justices that the individual mandate was not a valid exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause. She called the reasoning “crabbed” but was satisfied that Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the fifth vote to uphold the law under the taxing power. Ginsburg puzzled some liberals with her criticisms of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion — a case that was decided well before she took the bench. Although she said she felt like the result was right, she thought the Supreme Court should have limited itself to the Texas statute at hand instead of issuing a sweeping decision that created a target for opponents to abortion rights.She was in dissent in 2007 when the majority upheld a federal ban on a procedure called “partial birth abortion.” She called the decision “alarming” and said that it “tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.”She voted with the majority, however, in 2016 when the court struck down a Texas abortion law that critics called one of the strictest nationwide.In July, Ginsburg filed another fierce dissent when the conservative majority allowed the Trump administration to expand exemptions for employers who have religious or moral objections to complying with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate.”Today, for the first time, the Court casts totally aside countervailing rights and interests in its zeal to secure religious rights to the nth degree,” Ginsburg wrote, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She observed that the administration had said the new rules would cause thousands of women — “between 70,500 and 126,400 women of childbearing age,” she wrote — to lose coverage.Friendship with ScaliaDespite their ideological differences, her best friend on the bench was the late Justice Antonin Scalia. After the conservative’s sudden death in February 2016, Ginsburg said he left her a “treasure trove” of memories. She was a life-long opera fan who appeared onstage in 2016 at the Kennedy Center for a non-speaking role in the Washington National Opera’s “The Daughter of the Regiment.”At speaking events she often lamented that while she dreamed of being a great opera diva, she had been born with the limited range of a sparrow.Her relationship with Scalia inspired Derrick Wang to compose a comic opera he titled “Scalia/Ginsburg” that was based on opinions penned by the two justices.The actress Kate McKinnon also portrayed Ginsburg — wearing black robes and a trademark jabot — in a recurring “Saturday Night Live” skit responding to the news of the day.Ginsburg suffered two bouts of cancer in 1999 and 2009 and received a stent implant in her heart but never missed a day of oral arguments. She was married to Martin Ginsburg, a noted tax attorney, for more than 50 years until his death in 2010 and they had two children. “I would just like people to think of me as a judge who did the best she could with whatever limited talent I had,” Ginsburg said at an event at the University of California Hastings College of Law in 2011, “to keep our country true to what makes it a great nation and to make things a little better than they might have been if I hadn’t been there.”This story has been updated. Sarah Mucha and Arlette Saenz contributed to this report.
Analysis: 20 years of closed-door conversations with Ruth Bader Ginsburg
(CNN)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87 on Friday, reached the heights of power at her own pace, always recalibrating the time she put to family and her pioneering career.”There is no man, no woman, who has it all,” she remarked in one interview with me as we sat in her…
(CNN)Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87 on Friday, reached the heights of power at her own pace, always recalibrating the time she put to family and her pioneering career.”There is no man, no woman, who has it all,” she remarked in one interview with me as we sat in her oak-paneled chambers filled with contemporary art. “Life just isn’t that way.”For nearly two decades, Ginsburg permitted me to visit her private office to gather information for books I wrote about the Supreme Court and for my daily journalism work. Justices rarely open their doors to reporters, and I never took these sessions for granted. The nine members of the bench operate behind layers of security and a desire for secrecy as they decide the law of the land. Some justices go to great lengths to control their public images.But Ginsburg was generous with the time she gave me, and she became more open over the years. She spoke most readily about the women’s rights issues that brought her national attention as an American Civil Liberties Union advocate in the 1970s. In time, she offered thoughts on other legal issues, the political dilemmas of the day and her personal dealings with her colleagues.Our most politically charged conversation came in July 2016, when I asked her if she had had second thoughts about her quips on possibly moving to New Zealand if Donald Trump won the presidency. Her remarks, which had been published by other news organizations before my visit, were drawing criticism for breaching judicial temperament.Rather than back down, Ginsburg escalated. “He’s a faker,” she told me. “He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego.” This criticism of Trump, published on CNN, ratcheted up complaints from the right and left that she had violated judicial decorum by expressing her views on the presidential race. Candidate Trump called on her to resign. “Her mind is shot,” he declared on Twitter.A few days later, Ginsburg issued a statement saying she regretted speaking so candidly.About a year ago, in August 2019, following her fourth cancer ordeal, we were on the same plane as she traveled to Buffalo, New York, for her first appearance after undergoing radiation for newly discovered pancreatic cancer. Waiting for takeoff, she worked on a draft of the speech she was to deliver. She had just completed radiation treatment but did not want to cancel the commitment. The old friend who had persuaded her to schedule the University of Buffalo visits had recently died. Ginsburg did not want to pull out because of her own health problems. Within weeks that fall, she followed up with scheduled appearances in Washington; New York; Little Rock, Arkansas; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Chicago.Ginsburg wanted to stay in the public eye as much as possible. A little over a decade earlier, when she was being treated for her first occurrence of pancreatic cancer, she explained the importance of being visible. In the middle of difficult radiation treatment, she chose to attend Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress. At the time, February 2009, she was the lone female justice on the bench.”First, I wanted people to see that the Supreme Court isn’t all male,” Ginsburg told me afterward. “I also wanted them to see I was alive and well, contrary to that senator who said I’d be dead within nine months.” (She was referring to the late Sen. Jim Bunning, a Kentucky Republican who had predicted her cancer was so serious it likely would kill her.)Ginsburg possessed a cheeky humor but was never brazen. She spoke slowly, with long pauses between sentences. In her chambers, bookshelves and tables were filled with family photos and mementos of her legal milestones, which included arguing six cases before the Supreme Court as a women’s rights lawyer.She used a special cupboard for the elaborate collars and jabots she wore over her black robe. Off the bench, she dressed in colorful designer dresses, jackets and shawls. She enjoyed fashion and sometimes talked about the boutiques she had visited in her travels.As a lawyer and justice, Ginsburg was exacting. She also admitted when she was wrong. And as a working mother, she never presented herself as perfect.When daughter Jane was born in 1955, Ginsburg said she was afraid to pick her up. “I was scared to death of her,” she told me in a 2012 conversation. “My natural reaction to Jane was that she would break.”It was during that interview that Ginsburg rejected the assertion of commentators who declared that men, but not women, could “have it all” in the realms of home and work.Neither men nor women could have all they wanted, she said, at any one time in life. Ginsburg’s mantra, instead, was: All in good time. “What you do appreciate at my distance,” she said as she was nearing age 80, “is that the time during which child care is a major part of your life is relatively brief.”Learning from O’Connor; wanting to ‘strangle’ ScaliaMy interviews with Ginsburg began two decades ago as I began researching a 2005 biography of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female justice. Ginsburg became the second woman on the bench, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.Ginsburg described how O’Connor had reacted when Ginsburg sought her advice regarding the first opinion then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist had assigned her to write. Usually the first assignment for a new justice is a relatively easy unanimous case, but Rehnquist gave Ginsburg a complicated pension dispute.”Sandra, how can he do this to me?” Ginsburg said to O’Connor.”Ruth, you just do it,” O’Connor answered bluntly, “and get your opinion in circulation before he makes the next set of assignments.”As Ginsburg related the story, she said of the no-nonsense O’Connor: “That is so typical Sandra.” O’Connor, who grew up on a ranch, exuded determination in all things. She had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge and had the distinction of being the first female majority leader of any state Senate nationwide. Like Ginsburg, who raised two children, O’Connor managed her career and motherhood, with three sons.But the women differed in style and legal substance, and Ginsburg sometimes marveled that she, a Brooklyn-born liberal, had forged a deep friendship on the bench with Arizona Republican O’Connor.In our early interviews, Ginsburg spoke readily about Justice Antonin Scalia, another one of my book subjects. Ginsburg and “Nino” had become close when first serving together on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. They were ideological opposites but often exchanged drafts of opinions as they worked out arguments. They traveled together, shared a love for opera and celebrated New Year’s Eve at an annual dinner with spouses.As dear as Scalia was to Ginsburg, he became a thorn in the side of O’Connor. It perturbed him that the conservative Reagan appointee searched for a middle ground on the law. After O’Connor balked at striking down abortion rights in a 1989 case, he said her rationale “cannot be taken seriously.”Ginsburg told me, “Nino, in my view, sometimes does go overboard. It would be better if he dropped things like: ‘This opinion is not to be taken seriously.’ He might have been more influential here if he did not do that.””I love him,” she added of Scalia. “But sometimes I’d like to strangle him.”Actually, Ginsburg initially said she wanted to “wring his neck,” but she quickly amended the phrase, perhaps thinking it sounded too aggressive. She often repeated her mother’s adage that she should always act like a lady even as she spoke her own mind.Scalia was a constant topic for us, particularly from 2006 to 2009, when I was focused on his biography. “There are few of us who have such confidence that we are right,” she declared of Scalia’s approach to the law and life.During this period, Ginsburg was the only woman on the bench. O’Connor had retired in January 2006, and Sonia Sotomayor, the third female justice, did not join the high court until August 2009, appointed by Obama.Ginsburg was missing O’Connor in these years, particularly during the justices’ closed-door sessions known as “the conference,” when they privately discuss which appeals to hear and how to rule on cases after oral arguments are held.”At the conference, she spoke long before I did,” Ginsburg said, referring to O’Connor’s seniority and the traditional order of the nine justices at the table. “She is not an on-the-one-hand, on-the-other hand person.”Ginsburg recalled that her own views were sometimes discounted in the justices’ sessions, in the same vein as when she was a young lawyer. “I don’t know how many meetings I attended in the ’60s and the ’70s, where I would say something, and I thought it was a pretty good idea. … Then somebody else would say exactly what I said. Then people would become alert to it, respond to it.””It can happen even in the conferences in the court,” she continued in this spring 2009 interview, “when I will say something — and I don’t think I’m a confused speaker — and it isn’t until somebody else says it that everyone will focus on that point.” Some of her male colleagues later told me they were surprised by her comments.On occasion, readers questioned whether Ginsburg was trying to send a message to the other justices through me. I brushed off that suggestion. Ginsburg was able to speak her mind and skilled at persuasion. And she never knew for certain when anything she told me would be published.One such incident occurred in spring 2009, when I wrote about Ginsburg’s views of a then-pending case involving an eighth-grade girl who had been strip-searched for the drug ibuprofen at her Arizona school. I brought the dispute up with Ginsburg because of the frustration she had displayed at oral arguments when her colleagues minimized the girl’s ordeal.”They have never been a 13-year-old girl. It’s a very sensitive age for a girl. I don’t think that my colleagues, some of them, quite understood. … Maybe a 13-year-old boy in a locker room doesn’t have that same feeling about his body. But a girl who’s just at the age where she is developing, whether or has developed a lot …. Or … has not developed at all (might be) embarrassed about that.”In the end, the majority ruled in the case of Safford Unified School District v. Redding that the search was unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment.Changes at the courtOver the past decade, Ginsburg’s work and home life underwent significant changes. Most personally, her husband of 56 years, Martin, died after a struggle with cancer. “I miss Marty enormously,” she later told me. “I think of him 100 times a day.” Ginsburg also became the leader of the left wing of the court in 2010, as Justice John Paul Stevens retired. She embraced that role, operating more strategically with her colleagues on the left and writing stronger dissents for that bloc. She said she felt a stronger sense of mission. “I know that’s what he would have wanted,” she said of Marty.In 2010, Elena Kagan joined the court. “I like the idea that we’re all over the bench,” Ginsburg said of the three women on the nine-member court in 2011. “It says women are here to stay.”She also enjoyed watching Kagan spar rhetorically with Chief Justice John Roberts in the behind-the-scenes drafting process. Kagan “is just a delight,” Ginsburg told me, “and very solid on substance.”She and Kagan, along with Justices Stephen Breyer and Sotomayor, were often in dissent as the conservative Roberts majority only became stronger. “We have really tried hard not to be splintered,” she told me in 2013, “to give a solidity to the dissent.Health and pressure to retireAfter Ginsburg survived colorectal cancer in 1999 and the first bout with pancreatic cancer in 2009, her health became a major topic of public interest. I began following up on even minor incidents. In summer 2012, Scalia told me she had slipped and fractured her ribs in the spring. So when I visited Ginsburg soon after my Scalia conversation, I asked how she was feeling. She downplayed the rib injury. She said there was nothing to do but work through the pain. It just so happened that the rib fracture occurred as she was navigating with her colleagues the difficult constitutional challenge to the Affordable Care Act.The physical resilience of Ginsburg, then 79, continued to amaze me. When I went to see her at the close of the next year’s session, in 2013, I offhandedly asked whether she had again fallen. I did not expect the answer I received.”Yes, I fell,” she said. “It was almost identical” to what had happened a year earlier. “I knew immediately what it was this time. They wanted to send me to … the emergency room, and I said, no, absolutely not. … There’s nothing you could do. You just live on painkillers for awhile.”Ginsburg plowed through the vicissitudes of life and, as she reached 80, rebuffed retirement suggestions, particularly from liberals who wanted her to step down while a Democrat was in the White House. In 2014, I received a tip that Obama had privately invited Ginsburg to lunch a few months earlier. I could not help but wonder whether Obama was exploring the possibility that she might soon retire. I asked the justice how their time together had gone.”They’ve got a very good chef at the White House,” Ginsburg began. “The problem for me is the President eats very fast. And I eat very slowly. I barely finished my first course when they brought the second. Then the President was done, and I realized that he had important things to do with his time.”Ginsburg rejected my questions about whether he might have been fishing for any sign, as they dined alone, of her retirement plans.”I don’t think he was fishing,” she said.When I asked why she thought he had invited her, she said, “Maybe to talk about the court. Maybe because he likes me. I like him.”I raised the possibility that Obama might have been trying to send her a message, perhaps to encourage her to step down while he was still in office. She rejected that possibility and said flatly: “If the President invites you, probably a part of you says, ‘Don’t question it. Just go.'”In these years, some liberals feared that if Ginsburg did not leave while Democrat Obama was in office, she might be forced due to illness to leave during a Republican presidency, which would bolster the conservative majority.Ginsburg said it was unlikely that Obama would been able to win confirmation of another liberal, irrespective of timing. At one point in 2014, she asked me rhetorically, “So tell me who the President could have nominated this spring that you would rather see on the court than me?”Less than two years later, it was Scalia who was suddenly gone. He died at a remote hunting lodge in Texas on a vacation.”My first reaction was I was supposed to go first,” Ginsburg later told me. “I’m three years older. My second thought was, well, we all have to go sometimes.”Referring to Scalia’s apparently dying in his sleep, she said, “It’s the best you can do.”The justice and I talked again in January 2018, at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, when CNN Films premiered the Emmy-nominated documentary film “RBG.” President Trump was beginning his second year in office and there was a chance he would soon have an appointment to the high court. But the subjects of our conversations were light, related to travel and family. She always asked about my daughter, who shared her passions for opera and theater.In July 2019, Ginsburg spoke at Georgetown Law School about her life and career, and I moderated a panel afterward that featured women who had followed her path in the law and on the bench.Many of Ginsburg’s comments related to the balance she had struck with her husband to allow them both to pursue professional goals. She said she had concentrated on home and family when Marty was working long hours to become a partner at a law firm.”Then it switched,” she told the Georgetown Law audience, “when the women’s movement came alive at the end of the ’60s, and Marty realized that what I was doing was very important.”She described him as her “biggest booster,” and he might not have surprised at the celebrity status she achieved, had he lived to see it, when the “Notorious RBG” meme first went viral in 2013.A visit to talk about civil procedureMy last session with RBG in chambers occurred in January 2020. I asked if I could see her to discuss her interest in civil procedure, which dated to her law school days at Harvard and deepened as she compared the US and Swedish legal systems early in her legal career. Civil procedure covers the rules for who can sue and when, and with what particular claims. I had noticed that Ginsburg seemed to be focused more on procedural flaws in cases, for example, that a claim was moot, perhaps as a way to blunt the effort by the court’s five conservative justices to set new precedents on the merits of disputes.It was during that interview that she told me she was in good health, “cancer free.” She then quickly produced a sheet of paper that held a “favorite quote,” from a 1943 case. “The history of liberty,” Justice Felix Frankfurter wrote in McNabb v. US, “has largely been the history of observance of procedural safeguards.”She seemed delighted to have reason to recall her first civil procedure course at Harvard and her drive to volunteer as much as possible when the professor asked questions. I told her that Scalia had once described her as “a tigress on civil procedure.””She has done more to shape the law in this field than any other justice on this court,” he had told me. “She will take a lawyer who is making a ridiculous argument and just shake him like a dog with a bone.””I wish he had listened to me more often,” Ginsburg responded during our January conversation.She shuddered as she recounted a 2011 case in which, she said, Scalia and other conservatives had “picked up” enough votes to deprive her of a majority on a civil procedure issue. Before that case, she told me, “I was really on a roll.”When I left her chambers, she was still clutching the Frankfurter quote. With her reminiscences of law school competition and high court rivalry, Ginsburg exuded an enduring youthfulness, along with the intensity of the modern “RBG.”Just a few months earlier I had watched her bask in the appreciation of audiences — multiple standing ovations — at the University of Buffalo.Declared Ginsburg: “It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the ‘Notorious RBG.'”