The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

August 30, 2013

Ginsburg stays on the offensive

(Continued)

Hmmm, notice the absence of gendered pronouns.

No justice is going to admit to basing retirement plans on the president in power; Liptak wrote that Ginsburg “said repeatedly that the identity of the president who would appoint her replacement did not figure in her retirement planning.”

But denials notwithstanding, no justice can avoid thinking about it. Legacy doesn’t matter if it is at risk of being dismantled. Linda Greenhouse, in “Becoming Justice Blackmun,” describes how, after Ginsburg’s arrival, Harry Blackmun decided it was time to go: “Roe was safe, and a sympathetic president was in the White House.”

But Ginsburg has another predecessor in mind. “I wonder if Sandra regrets stepping down when she did,” she mused to Reuters, referring to Sandra Day O’Connor. One suspects Ginsburg has some inkling of the answer, and that it shapes her own. Giving up water-skiing, as Ginsburg has, is one thing. Relinquishing “the best job in the world for a lawyer” is quite another.

Ginsburg’s second message is even sharper: an unsparing critique of her conservative colleagues.

On the court’s Citizens United ruling loosening campaign finance restrictions, she told Bloomberg: “People are appalled abroad. It’s a question I get asked all the time: Why should elections be determined by how much a candidate can spend and why should candidates spend most of their time these days raising the funds so that they will prevail in the next election?”

To the AP, Ginsburg all but called her fellow opera buff a hypocrite. “Scalia, who really takes after the court for taking over legislative turf in same-sex marriage, doesn’t make a whimper in voting rights, which passed 98 to nothing in the Senate and 330 to something in the House,” she said. “I didn’t put that to him, but surely he’s going to be asked the question, ‘How do you distinguish the two?’”

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