Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kavanaugh Defender
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kavanaugh Defender
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will not be tearing down Justice Brett Kavanaugh just to score points with the Resistance.
Ginsburg, who has a physical will and stamina that is apparently made of iron, has been giving a few speeches or talks lately. And she is being quite kind in talking about the newest members of the Supreme Court, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
On Wednesday night, Ginsburg delivered a 30-minute speech looking back at the 2018 Supreme Court term and Stevens’s life, before participating in an hour-long question-and-answer session with Duke Law professor Neil Siegel, one of her former clerks. When Siegel asserted during the Q&A that “nominees for the Supreme Court are not chosen primarily anymore for independence, legal ability, [and] personal decency, and I wonder if that’s a loss for all of us,” Ginsburg immediately defended Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. “My two newest colleagues are very decent, very smart individuals,” she said.”
This would be the second time that Ginsburg has publicly praised Kavanaugh, as she previously commended him for his all-female law clerk team. I am sure everyone, right and left alike, is checking to see if we’re all in the Twilight Zone. But the real truth is that the justices do make the best effort to be friendly with each other.
“The Court remains the most collegial place I have ever worked,” Ginsburg said. She lamented how divisive Supreme Court nominations have become. “I had a history of being a flaming feminist,” Ginsburg said, before noting that she was confirmed 96–3. “I was general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union.” Ginsburg pointed out that her “buddy,” the late Justice Antonin Scalia, also had well-known constitutional views when he was confirmed by a unanimous vote. “My hope is we will return to the way it once was,” Ginsburg said of the confirmation process.”
As Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino commented in their recent bestseller, Justice on Trial (read Nina’s review of it here), the justices know that they are working together for what could be the rest of their lives. The friendliness and cordiality that has so often been talked about, despite their ideological differences, is built upon that. After all, if you had to work with the same group of people for the rest of your working career, wouldn’t it be a good idea to at least get along with them and be on good terms?
As a matter of fact, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would like to see some of that Supreme Court cordiality spread through American society. And you know what? She’s not wrong here.
“Nowadays, when people divide into ‘I’ll talk to my own kind, and the others I have nothing to do with,’ that’s very sad because that hasn’t been the way it was and isn’t the way this country should be,” Ginsburg said. She added that Americans should go “beyond just mere tolerance of different views” to “welcoming different views because they enrich our society.”
Our current cultural and political discourse would be a lot smoother if liberals – who have talked about donating organs to Ruth Bader Ginsburg so as to keep her alive forever – would actually LISTEN to the associate justice and take her words to heart.
And speaking of living forever, Ginsburg has no intention of stopping or retiring. Her workouts are the stuff of legend.
But she is being practical about her health.
Despite Ginsburg’s dream of staying on the court for another decade, she sounded a more realistic note at the end of Wednesday night’s Q&A session. “I’ll stay on this job as long as I can do it full-steam. That means, at my age, 86, you have to take it year by year,” she said. “I was okay this last term. I expect to be okay next term. And after that, we’ll just have to see.”
If only the cordiality that the SCOTUS shows each other in public and private could manage to spill over a little into the public arena. After all, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg can praise Trump appointees Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, and show her dislike of the acrimonious confirmation process that has become standard practice, isn’t there a tiny shred of hope for us?