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SCOTUS Justice Ginsburg Longs For the Cordiality of Days Gone By


Heading into last November’s election, the Supreme Court was a major priority for most voters. And given the state of our country, it’s no wonder why. The deep political divides threatening to rip America apart have as much if not more of their origin in the Court as Congress. Apparently, that fact hasn’t dawned on 84-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who told reporters on Saturday night that she yearned for a less partisan climate. If that’s true, the answer is staring her in the mirror.

After a play about her dear friend Justice Antonin Scalia, Ginsburg said she wished for the days when people on both sides got along as well as she and Scalia did. Reporters for the Wall Street Journal were struck by how the justice “spoke longingly of the days when nominations to the Supreme Court didn’t spark the all-out partisan combat that defines the process now, noting her own 96-3 Senate confirmation vote in 1993 and Justice Scalia’s 98-0 vote in 1986.” But, as Scalia himself would say, the justices are just as responsible for the change in climate as anyone. “Once upon a time,” he wrote, “justices were chosen on the basis of [their] legal skills, honesty, and judicial temperament. [These days,] the most important aspect of a judge… is whether this person will write [a] new Constitution that you like.”

With few exceptions (one of whom was just confirmed to the Supreme Court), few justices seem to understand the boundaries of their job. Instead, the Court has manipulated the Constitution to give itself the power to “resolve” profoundly divisive issues. In the process, they aren’t resolving anything — they’re only inflaming tensions over subjects meant to be debated by the people’s elected representatives. And black-robed activists like Ginsburg are to blame. For the better part of 40 years they’ve been short-circuiting the democratic process — and the results have been catastrophic. Instead of respecting their role, the Court has tried to decide debates like marriage where there is no consensus — and even less grounds for the ruling that followed. If it weren’t for illegitimate decisions like Roe v. Wade, disenfranchising voters and elevating the Court above the Constitution, the divisions on abortion wouldn’t be nearly as intense today.

“My hope,” Justice Ginsburg said over the weekend, “is in my lifetime we will get back to the way it was.” Ours too. But it will take a radical shift in the thinking of liberals on the Court to make it so.


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