By now, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s comments regarding probable Republican nominee Donald Trump are well-publicized and have been widely discussed. She thinks Trump is a “faker” and has been extremely vocal publicly about her opinions. While everyone has a right to free speech, there is a legitimate question of propriety. Justice Ginsburg is a member of the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the nation. While she as a human being may have her opinions, there is a difference between remaining silent and being open.
Should Justice Ginsburg have to resign as a result? There are a number of things to consider.
The appearance is bad and even Democrats know it. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) didn’t take a stance on the comments as officially agreeing or disagreeing, though he did note that doesn’t help anything. He then further noted that it is hypocritical, given the left has criticized Justice Clarence Thomas in the past for public political comments.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) was a little less direct in noting that he doesn’t disagree with Justice Ginsburg’s assessment, but did admit that the perception of the Supreme Court is hurt by these actions. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin also admitted that Justice Ginsburg probably went a little too far. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) also noted the perception problem in pointing out that if it’s not over the line, it’s very close.
Is this negative impact upon public trust enough for her to go? There could be more than just perception problems.
The Code of Conduct for United States Judges has strict guidelines for federal judges participating in political activities. Among the basics of not being swayed by finances or holding other positions that could create a conflict, the Code also states that judges should not be publicly endorsing or even opposing a candidate for public office.
The code itself is clear, but will she be removed?
Even the media has taken issue with the comments. The New York Times editorial board ripped Justice Ginsburg and even went as far as saying Trump was right about her. The probable Republican nominee, like a number of other Republican politicians, have reacted with shock and stated it was “inappropriate.” The Washington Post’s editorial board said as much, while going further to note federal code and calling her a hypocrite.
The Washington Post though also points out the reason why judges should be impartial and makes reference to the 2000 election, which was decided by the Supreme Court and was widely considered partisan.
Is this the kind of Supreme Court that Justice Ginsburg wants? Openly partisan and hardly impartial, making public comments that will later bring into question her ability to hear a case with dignity and respect?
It’s highly unlikely that Justice Ginsburg’s hubris will be overcome by any level of guilt or regret that will lead to her resignation. The next step would be for Congress to take a look at the situation. Should she be impeached? The question should be considered now as opposed to later, given what is at stake. This election could be close and it will not only decide the Presidency, but that President will decide the future balance of the court for years to come. There is a great deal on the line at this point.
If the Supreme Court became involved with a critical election decision, would you trust Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with that decision?