U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg created some buzz on Monday when she may have described Senator Lindsey Graham as a female.
The South Carolina Republican lawmaker is male.
Ginsburg, 84, made the reference during a speech as she accepted a civility award from Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. The award also honored Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away suddenly in February of 2016 in Texas. See the clip embedded below.
Despite their ideological differences, the liberal Ginsburg — a Bill Clinton appointee — and the conservative/libertarian Scalia, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan, enjoyed a close friendship.
Also on Monday, Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit nominated by President Trump, was sworn in to replace Scalia. Gorsuch clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy earlier in his career, making him apparently the first law clerk to serve on the Supreme Court bench at the same time as his former boss.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Gorsuch last Friday by a vote of 54-45 after the majority Republicans invoked the so-called nuclear option or Reid option to eliminate the 60-vote threshold to overcome a filibuster.
In 2013, when Democrats were running the Senate, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid similarly changed the longstanding filibuster rules to enable the confirmation of Obama lower-court nominees.
The Supreme Court goes back into session next week.
Gorsuch was one of the judges who Trump included on a list of potential nominees in the mold of Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas released during the presidential campaign. About Gorsuch, Ginsburg previously said that “I’ve worked with him and I think he’s very easy to get along with. He writes very well,” the New York Daily News reported.
At one point in her remarks advocating for elected officials to work together more effectively made while accepting the Prize for Civility in Public Life, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had this to say about Lindsey Graham, 61, the Washington Examiner and various other news outlets reported.
“I thought back to the 1993 confirmation of my nomination to the court; the hearing was altogether civil, the vote was 96 to 3. For Justice Scalia, the vote was unanimous. Let’s hope members of Congress, the members that Allegheny College has already honored — Vice President Joe Biden and Senator John McCain, the women of the Senate, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham — let’s hope that they and others of goodwill will lead in restoring harmonious work ways.”
A rep for Allegheny College subsequently clarified that Ginsburg was not naming Lindsey Graham among the women of the Senate and instead was using mutually exclusive terminology.
“The spokesman said Ginsburg was instead referring to Graham and Feinstein as winners of the college’s Prize for Civility in Public Life in 2013, and the same prize being awarded in 2014 to the ‘Women of the Senate,’ a reference to 20 senators who ‘banded together to help end the 2013 government shutdown.'” TheHill explained.
Sen. Graham’s office has as yet made no comment about the gender misidentification by the justice who is nicknamed “the notorious RBG” by her fans.
Back in July of 2016, Ruth Bader Ginsburg apologized for negative comments about then-candidate Donald Trump. Ginsburg had joked about moving to New Zealand if Trump won the election and criticized him as a “faker” and an egotist, among other things. Ginsburg also expressed concern about the kind of jurists Trump might put on the Supreme Court.
Trump responded on Twitter by claiming Ginsburg’s mind is shot and that she should quit.
Separately writing in TheHill, prominent George Washington Univ. law professor Jonathan Turley suggests that Justice Ginsburg may have goofed by not stepping down while Obama was still president.
“[The Gorsuch confirmation] may also have been an equally huge loss for the of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who ignored increasing calls for her retirement during the Obama administration to avoid the prospect of the flipping of her seat from a liberal to a conservative member. That gamble — whatever calculation — could now cost a sweeping number of key cases hanging by a 5-4 margin, including much of the precedent built around Roe v. Wade, if not an outright overturning of that decision…Various advocates suggested for years that Ginsburg might be staying too long on the Court…Now Ginsburg’s gamble on Hillary Clinton being elected could have sweeping impact on precedent that she played a major role in creating.”
[Featured Image by Jose Luis Magana/AP Images]