Ginsburg: Independent judiciary ‘our nation’s hallmark and pride’
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Thursday that judges shouldn’t be the ones to defend themselves if attacked as part of the political fray — but she’s hoping to stand up for them.
Asked at an event at the Adas Israel synagogue in Washington by Jane Eisner, the editor of The Forward, if she felt the pressure to respond at a moment when many democratic norms are being challenged, Ginsburg demurred.
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“The judiciary is a reactive branch of government. It doesn’t generate the controversies that come before it — it’s reactive to what’s out there,” she said.
But the norms, she said, are important.
“Judges do depend on the bar to explain the importance of an independent judiciary. It is our nation’s hallmark and pride, the federal judiciary,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg was also asked about being able to cooperate and connect despite major ideological differences, given her famously close relationship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia. She called it the best working environment she was ever a part of.
“We all respect,” she said, “and in most cases, genuinely like each other.”
As is generally the case for Supreme Court justices, Ginsburg steered clear of addressing politics more directly. But she did touch on several issues.
Ginsburg, who began her career as a lawyer working on cases of gender equality, said she is still hoping the country will pass an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.
“A very large part of becoming a more perfect union is to embrace more and more people,” she said. “I think the genius of the Constitution is that this concept of ‘We the people’ has become ever more embracing.”
She also cited her admiration for an opinion written by former president of the Israeli Supreme Court Aharon Barak that declared that torture was never legal, even in the case when authorities said that it could be used to stop a ticking time bomb and save lives.
“There’s no greater gift we can give to our enemies than to become so overwhelmed by our concern for security,” Ginsburg said, “that more and more we come to resemble our enemy in our disrespect for human rights.”
February 2, 2018 at 02:01AM