Disclaimer: The opinions in this blog post do not lessen my respect and admiration for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, affectionately known as the Notorious RBG. That may not be rational but love is blind.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an interview in this Sunday’s NY Times stated that she and her husband would move to New Zealand if Donald Trump were elected President. She added:
I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
|She went on to discuss her distress that the US Senate had not confirmed Merritt Garland to the Court and added that it would be nice to be more regularly on the “5” side of a 5-4 decision. She said even more, discussing her views on decided cases – wishing for the overturn of Citizens United and saying that a few of the 4-4 cases would have gone the other way if Justice Scalia were still on the bench.
Many people may undoubtedly think its refreshing and interesting to hear a Justice of the Supreme Court speak so candidly on issues like this. But it is wrong – flat out wrong. SCOTUS should be above the fray of Presidential politics – I know that may be a dream state in our current environment but not too long ago, a sitting Supreme Court Judge would never opine on any issue that may come before the Court and that restriction covered almost all issues since it is foreseeable that just about any legal controversy can end up in the Supreme Court.
And its not just RBG . This new pattern of SCOTUS judges talking really began with Clarence Thomas who made a stir many years ago by accepting huge speaking fees to address conservative think tanks- he is a fan favorite at Koch Brothers’ events for example. Justice Scalia traveled around the world to speak at similar events. But it besmirches the Court’s reputation to weigh in so directly as RBG did against a pending Presidential candidate. The Court itself is already more politicized and polarized than it has ever been. Essentially, Judge Anthony Kennedy is the Supreme Court for all intents and purposes as you can easily figure out where the other seven will fall on most issues. The court’s decision often take direct jabs at one another and attack the very language used by the other side in a personal way not seen before this Court’s current composition. The country did not need any further evidence of just how politicized the Court has become.
Donald Trump recently made news when he said the Mexican-American judge presiding over the Trump University fraud case should recuse himself due to his ethnicity and Trump’s Anti-Mexico statements. If Trump becomes President, would he ask RBG to step aside on cases dealing with the Federal government? I think its a safe bet that’s exactly what would happen.
Maybe its her age (she’s 83). My Mom is 83 and my Dad is 91 and any filter on their thoughts and words is gone – they say whatever is on their minds. Or maybe RBG was trying to bring attention to the most important issue of this election – that the winner may get to appoint at least one and as many as three Justices within the first term. But by publicly stating her distaste for Donald Trump, Judge Ginsburg went too far and diminished herself and the Court. Let’s hope it ends here.