Notorious RBG to spin some tunes

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

This coming Monday (Sept. 21), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be the guest DJ on WFMT's midday radio show focusing on opera and the law. There will be live performances and recordings of a number of operatic scenes that illustrate important legal ideas (chosen by the justice), including (according to the WFMT Web site):

  • The "Seguidilla" scene from Bizet's Carmen -Ms. Rosen and Mr. Donner as Carmen and Don José, performing a duet that is arguably opera's most famous plea bargain.
  • "Abendlich" from Wagner's Das Rheingold -The character of Wotan, on the importance of contracts.
  • "I Accept Their Verdict" from Britten's Billy Budd—Mr. Donner as Captain Vere, on the difference between law and justice.
  • Patrick De Rocher's aria from Dead Man Walking by Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally—Ms. Rosen, on the death penalty.
  • "A Paradox" from Gilbert & Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance-Mr. Carlson, Ms. Rosen, and Mr. Guetti as Frederick, Ruth, and the Pirate King, on strict versus sensible construction.

Justice Ginsburg will also provide her own commentary about these scenes.

[I was particularly gratified to see the Wagner excerpt on her list. A few months ago, Justice Ginsburg gave a lengthy interview with California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu, in the course of which she mentioned something that I had forgotten long ago—that when I applied for a clerkship with her in 1986, I included, as my writing sample, "not just the usual brief [but instead] an essay on the theory of contract as played out in Wagner's Ring Cycle," which she graciously described as "irresistible." So whether or not I made any contributions, during my clerkships with her, to her understanding of legal doctrine, at least I made at least a small contribution to her operaphilia … ]

[Thanks to Josh Kershenbaum for the pointer]