It is bad enough for Supreme Court Justices to throw political shibboleths in private conversations or even in speeches on the lecture circuit, but it is even more egregious when they show their political bias openly in public statements to the sensationalist media and immerse themselves in disgraceful political controversies. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has done just that and generated a shameful political scandal of behemoth proportions.
Justices are supposed to be above politics and political scandals, and, like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion, when it comes to political prejudices. This past Monday, Justice Ginsburg told CNN that Donald Trump “is a faker. He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego.”
She went further in a New York Times interview, when she said that a Trump presidency “would be unimaginable.” She went on, “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 added, “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
The issue of the need for public knowledge of the status of health and disease came up after the unexpected and sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016. Perhaps, we should also look at the issue of advanced age and infirmity. Justice Anthony Kennedy will be 80 in July and Justice Stephen Breyer will turn 78 in August. Justice Ginsburg at age 83 is not only the oldest Justice in the Supreme Court, but she has suffered numerous serious illnesses, including colon and pancreatic cancer, anemia, and coronary artery disease, that may have gradually come to affect her stamina and judgment. The Constitution (Article III, Section 1) says only, “Judges, both of the Supreme Court and the inferior courts, should hold their offices during good behaviour.” Should we consider amending the Constitution to place a limit on age and serious illnesses, considering the inappropriate remarks of Justice Ginsburg, her age and infirmities?
The BBC, earlier today and one of the first news media to report the brewing scandal, called it a “political row,” and reported Donald Trump’s call for her resignation: “Justice Ginsburg…has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot— resign!”
Indeed, for a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, who is appointed to serve the nation without personal or political prejudices, she has revealed poor judgment as well as political bias unbecoming a federal judge. In fact, she has gone beyond the limits of decency and insulted national pride, when she further stated that she would move to New Zealand if Trump is elected to the White House!
Imagine that, a Supreme Court Justice elected for life to serve the nation, threatening to leave the country and presumably abandon her post, if a particular candidate, a federal Executive not of her liking, in this case Trump, is chosen President by the American people!
It’s one thing for celebrities, such as Alec Baldwin, Cher, and Whoopi Goldberg, volatile but shallow entertainers, to threaten to leave the country if a particular candidate is elected, but it is quite another for a Supreme Court Justice to do so! This is not a matter for impeachment. This is a matter for Justice Ginsburg doing what is right to make amends for her audacity; she should step down voluntarily and resign from the Supreme Court to preserve what remains of her tainted judicial legacy.
Editor’s Note: Today, Justice Ginsburg has issued the following statement:
“On reflection, my recent remarks to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them,” she said. “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.”
Dr. Miguel A. Faria is a retired neurosurgeon and the author of “Cuba in Revolution — Escape from a Lost Paradise.” His website is www.haciendapub.com