Image - detail from film poster
Past Event

Making the Case: A Unique Portrait of a Supreme Court Justice

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told filmmaker Jennifer Callahan, "If I left the house without a bag, I’d go right back inside to get it." In "Making the Case," the late justice shares her thoughts—not on the law, but on daily objects from her own life, on some of her handbags. The film enables the viewer to get to know the great RBG in a most relatable way.

Join us for an unexpected look into the thinking of a legal legend. Please note: This is not a screening of the short film "Making the Case."

Meet the Speakers

Laura W. Brill is a partner at the litigation boutique Kendall Brill & Kelly LLP in Los Angeles and served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  She is also the founder and director of The Civics Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to improving high school voter registration rates. She has been a law school guest lecturer at Georgetown, Loyola, Stanford, UC Irvine, UCLA, USC and Yale and publishes and speaks widely on legal issues, including voting rights, the First Amendment, copyright law, appellate practice, and the legal profession.

Jennifer Callahan is a documentary filmmaker engaging with stories that go against the grain. Her first feature documentary, The Bungalows of Rockaway (2010), chronicles 100 years of the epic lives of New York City’s largest beach community and foregrounds urbanism, architectural history and race/ethnicity. Everything Is Different Now (2015) illustrates the impact of Superstorm Sandy on Rockaway and the surprising recovery taken by residents. And now in Callahan’s Making the Case (2020), a renowned mind directs her gaze on select mundane belongings.

Estelle Parsons was last seen on Broadway in The Velocity of Autumn for which she received her fifth Tony Award nomination. Although she has spent most of her professional life in the theater, she is most widely known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Bonnie and Clyde, and her decade-long, recurring role of Beverly, mother of the title character in the hit sitcom "Roseanne." In the theater, she has appeared in plays by the great writers of our time, including Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Dario Fo, and Horton Foote. She appeared in Roberto Athayde’s classic Miss Margarida's Way on Broadway, all over the United States and in London, Dublin, Turkey and Australia. She starred in August, Osage County by Tracy Letts on Broadway for a year and on the road for a year. Recently she played in Good People by David Lindsay-Abair and the Gershwin musical Nice Work If You Can Get It with Matthew Broderick. Her latest New York City appearances were in Tony Kushner’s play A Bright Room Called Day at the Public Theater and Michael Friedman’s musical Unknown Soldier at Playwrights Horizon. Then came the pandemic. She appeared in the second season of Netflix’ Grace and Frankie with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. As a director, she created the New York Shakespeare Festival Players for Joseph Papp in the 1980s. For two seasons they performed Shakespeare on Broadway for New York City school students and their families in an effort to develop a multicultural audience for New York City. She also directed Al Pacino in Oscar Wilde’s Salome: The Reading on Broadway and on tour. Last season she presented the Actors Studio-developed The Last Days of Judas Iscariot by Stephen Adly Guirgis at La Mama Experimental Theater in the East Village. Estelle Parsons is a member of the Actors Studio and was inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2004. She has received four lifetime achievement awards: a Lilly , an Obie, a LaMama award and the Cherry Lane award.

Screenwriter Daniel Stiepleman has been featured on the Black List, the Athena List and Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch. He was the recipient, most recently, of the Humanitas Prize for On the Basis of Sex, based on the life and early career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. He lives in New York City with his objectively more impressive oncologist-wife and their two children.


This is a free, online-only program; pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

We welcome donations made during registration to help support the production of our online programming

See more "Michelle Meow Show"s at The Commonwealth Club of California.

January 21, 2021

United States

Image - Laura Brill

Laura Brill

Former Clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Image - Jennifer Callahan

Jennifer Callahan

Director, Making the Case

Image - Estelle Parsons

Estelle Parsons

Academy Award-Winning Actor (Bonnie and Clyde); Director

Daniel Stiepleman

Screenwriter; Recipient, Humanitas Prize (for On the Basis of Sex)

Image - Michelle Meow

Michelle Meow

Producer and Host," The Michelle Meow Show" KBCW-TV and Podcast; Member, The Commonwealth Club Board of Governors; Twitter @msmichellemeow—Co-Host

Image - John Zipperer

John Zipperer

Producer and Host, Week to Week Political Roundtable; Vice President of Media & Editorial, The Commonwealth Club—Co-Host