Other than the late Antonin Scalia, no Supreme Court Justice has been more eager to comment on American politics than Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But when Ginsburg took shots at Republican nominee Donald Trump this week, many critics – mostly liberals and anti-Trump conservatives – said she crossed a line.
“I can’t imagine what this place would be – I can’t imagine what the country would be – with Donald Trump as our president,” Ginsburg said in an interview with the New York Times. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be…I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
To leave no doubt about where she stood, she recalled what her late husband used to say when disagreeing with political developments: “Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand.”
In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Ginsburg slyly alluded to her electoral predictions.
“It’s likely that the next president – whoever she will be – will have a few [Supreme Court] appointments to make,” she said.
You would think, considering the message, that Republicans and Trump supporters would be the first to criticize Ginsburg for violating traditional boundaries. Instead, it’s those who agree with her comments who wish she had kept her mouth shut.
In the Washington Post’s “Spoiler Alert” column, they declare Donald Trump “massively unfit to be president.” They then go on to condemn Ginsburg for speaking out.
“This was a remarkably stupid and egregious comment for a sitting Supreme Court justice to make on the record,” they write. “Trust in the Supreme Court was bound to take a hit after the death of Scalia and the partisan deadlock over filling his seat. But if eroding trust was a slow-burning political fire, Ginsburg just poured gasoline on it.”
In a Chicago Tribune editorial, the paper – fiercely anti-Trump from the beginning – accused Ginsburg of tarnishing the court.
“For justices to descend into partisan election campaigns would undermine public faith in their willingness to assess each case strictly on its legal merits,” they wrote. “It would also encourage justices to let their political biases affect, if not determine, their decisions.”
Uh-huh. See what’s going on yet?
We should welcome Ginsburg’s comments. They chip away at a very dangerous myth – that Supreme Court justices are apolitical, unbiased arbiters of truth. We should not encourage the American people to have “faith” in an idea that is completely fictional. Ginsburg’s political beliefs don’t change based on whether or not she blabs about them to the New York Times. Isn’t it better to know than to pretend that these justices are using “strictly legal merits” to govern their rulings? Who, at this point in time, can still believe that anyway?
If we want a Supreme Court that can separate its biases from its decisions, that’s a noble goal. It’s one worth pursuing.
But you can’t defeat Islamic terrorism by pretending it doesn’t exist, you can’t fix your car by putting duct tape over the Check Engine light, and you can’t build a neutral Supreme Court by warning its ideologues to keep quiet. Notice, if you will, what liberals are saying. They’re not calling for Ginsburg to be removed from the court, are they? No, they’re just telling her to shush. Play it cool. Don’t let the idiots see behind the curtain!
They’re not interested in neutrality; they’re interested in preserving the myth of neutrality.
That’s known in some circles as lying.