Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Apologizes For Dissing Donald Trump

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has expressed regret over her criticism of Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

In recent media interviews, Ginsburg, 83, joked about moving to New Zealand if Trump wins the election and criticized him as a “faker” and an egotist, among other things.

In response, Trump shot back on Twitter by claiming Ginsburg’s mind is shot and that she should quit. He also told the New York Times that she was a disgrace to the court and should apologize.

Some weeks back, in the-then controversy du jour, Trump took a lot of flak for criticizing the heritage of the federal judge overseeing the Trump University case.

Supreme Court justices traditionally refrain from overtly political statements.

In a statement released by the Supreme Court today, Ginsburg apparently had second thoughts about dissing The Donald.

“On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them. Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.”

Ginsburg, a Bill Clinton appointee, has been a member of the high court’s liberal wing since August 1993. She served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for the prior 13 years.

Trump has released a list of more conservative judges that he would consider elevating to the Supreme Court, which has one vacancy owing to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, but other openings could emerge as well given the demographics of the nation’s highest court. With Scalia’s passing, the Supreme Court now has a 4-4 split between conservatives and liberals, although to some degree that is an oversimplification. The U.S. Senate has declined to take action on President Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia.

Ginsburg also expressed concern about the kind of jurists that Trump might put on the Supreme Court.

Ginsburg’s original comments about Trump generated criticism across the ideological spectrum even from non-Trump-friendly media outlets. For example, claiming that Donald Trump was right, the New York Times editorial board declared that Ginsburg should “drop the political punditry and name-calling” especially given the possibility of more vacancies of the nine-member court or if the Trump-Clinton contest itself prompts legal challenges after Election Day.

“As Justice Ginsburg pointed out, other justices are nearing an age when retirement would not be surprising. That makes it vital that the court remain outside the presidential process. And just imagine if this were 2000 and the resolution of the election depended on a Supreme Court decision. Could anyone now argue with a straight face that Justice Ginsburg’s only guide would be the law?”

Similarly, the Washington Post editorial page observed that “Justice Ginsburg’s off-the-cuff remarks about the campaign fall into that limited category of candor that we can’t admire, because it’s inconsistent with her function in our democratic system…Think of how [Bush v. Gore] would have played out if one or more of the justices had previously mused about leaving for New Zealand in the event of a victory for either Mr. Bush or his opponent, Democrat Al Gore.”

In a new national poll, Rasmussen found that Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 44 percent to 37 percent, while CBS indicates that the two candidates are tied at 40 percent and that Clinton’s previous six-point lead from last month has faded. As alluded to above, a close election could wind up in court.

Reacting to the original Ginsburg comments, the Conservative Treehouse insisted that “many pundits and legal-types were aghast, because the ramifications were/are considerable given the number of executive branch legal issues that end up in SCOTUS. Under a President Trump, Ginsburg’s clear bias would mean solid arguments she would have to recuse herself from any cases originating within a Trump administration.”

Lower-court federal judges can be compelled to withdraw from hearing a case because of a conflict of interest, but Supreme Court justices self-decide whether to recuse themselves.

Separately, back in May 2013, Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose — seemed to suggest that the landmark Rove v. Wade abortion decision may have been too sweeping. Ginsburg noted at a University of Chicago event that the decision was an overreach by the High Court and overly politicized the controversial issue. Instead, the court should have issued a much narrower ruling that focused only on weighing the merits or demerits of the law in Texas where the abortion rights lawsuit got its start.

In an appearance on The Kelly File, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley took a dim view of Ginsburg’s Trump bashing.

Turley claimed Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s remarks about Donald Trump were thoughtless, unethical, and could undermine the integrity of the Supreme Court.

“There’s no question that Ginsburg’s comments departed from norms that modern justices typically adhere to, but any suggestion that the Court is above politics — or that it has ever been anything of the kind — is not accurate,” Think Progress asserted in the alternative.

[Photo by Cliff Owen/AP]