The Legal System Continues, per Ginsburg, J., To Protect the Constitutional System Against Trump

Yesterday morning the New York Times published a precedent-shattering interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Unless they have a book to sell, Supreme Court justices rarely give interviews. Even then, they diligently avoid political topics. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes a different approach.

These days, she is making no secret of what she thinks of a certain presidential candidate.

“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

It reminded her of something her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, a prominent tax lawyer who died in 2010, would have said.

“‘Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand,’” Justice Ginsburg said, smiling ruefully.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, these are remarks beyond imagining in anything other than frightening times.  They simultaneously communicate who she wants to lose the election, her feelings about the depth of the impact on the country were Trump were to win, the fact that it would have a huge significance for the court, the fact that this impact would last for a very long time, and the sense that at least for her family, watching it up close would be unbearable.

That is heady stuff.

Yet, almost a day later, no rebuke from a fellow justice, no statement of limitation from the Court press office, no statements of outrage from Republican senators, no demands for impeachment from the right.

Some of these will surely come, and perhaps part of the apparent quiet can be explained by the heavy focus on the shootings last week, and by Trump’s managers trying to keep him under wraps, which may also have inspired them to try to keep the surrogates quiet too.  Moreover, that Scalia and Alito have been somewhat loose in their comments too — but not nearly as much as Ginsburg was here — may have inhibited reaction somewhat.

But it is hard not to imagine how the media (and many of us) would have reacted  if, for example, Justice Alito had implicitly threatened to leave the country if Clinton became president, or if Justice Thomas had said he did not want to think about the decades long impact on the Court of a Clinton presidency.

I think the explanation for the silence may be that it reflects the quiet conspiracy of the elites that a Trump presidency just can not be allowed to happen.  Who knows, maybe Ginsburg even cleared her remarks with Chief Justice Roberts, or more likely gave him the opportunity to dissuade her.  Can you imagine the Chambers or Conference discussions among the Justices about the election?

In any event, this has to be a hint of what more might be to come, from everyone from the Chamber of Commerce to retired senior military officers, to our former presidents,  if in late October a Trump victory seems a real possibility.


About richardzorza

I am deeply involved in access to justice and the patient voice movement.
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1 Response to The Legal System Continues, per Ginsburg, J., To Protect the Constitutional System Against Trump

  1. Peter Fielding says:


    On this campus of very experienced citizens, I have heard similar statements about alternative places ( countries) to live in following a Trump election: Canada , Britain , Australia , New Zealand , Scandinavia ,and Israel are those that I can recall.

    They all have in common a basic Parliamentary Democracy model of political structure rather than the personality (cult) driven Presidential approach . USA has shown that a Presidential system working with a Congress willing to deal and compromise can meander through the weeds to good effect. When polarized these essential tenants no longer hold , the population is not served, the rabid fringes can rise with initial populist inflammatory intent which may then result in a new version of totalitarianism with the usual minority scapegoats. This is what Justice Ginsburg is responding to.

    Namely , politics by fear.

    The recent Brexit nonsense was nonsense because the pro’s and con’s of the rival ” positions” were not clearly enunciated. The protagonists misjudged their opposition and they all thought that “fear ” would be enough to win their day. The result , if you can call it that , was a complete society became evenly divided ( 51% vs 49%; hardly a mandate ). The political problem became not the EU but a profound lack of leadership on both sides of the issue, the practical implications of which still remain to be resolved by negotiation.

    Every now and again, leadership requires clear strategic thinking about the meaning of events including there implication ( based on past experience and examples ), and then the courage to speak the ” truth to power ” . I believe we are in such a time in the USA. We must not be reactive. We must not treat like with like. We need to encourage leadership to quietly state positive values with examples of productive discussions and negotiations in the political domain. We must have the confidence that decent people irrespective of their views on specifics can and must be encouraged to vote. The rest will take care of itself. If this is not true then democracy has no meaning.

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