Far be it from me to defend Donald Trump. I mean, how can anybody defend a guy who has uttered the awful comments he has about Latinos, women, African Americans, POW’s, and every other non-white male constituency you can think of? Well, you can when a sitting Supreme Court Justice decides to insert themselves into a presidential campaign.
I know full well this is going to be an unpopular opinion with many of my friends on the left and the readers of this blog, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg absolutely crossed a line when she, on numerous occasions this week, criticized Trump as being a “faker” and for not releasing his tax returns; among other comments.
While I am in full agreement with the context of her comments, Ginsburg, or any Supreme Court Justice for that matter, should not be making them.
Look, the Supreme Court is obviously a political branch of government. Anybody who suggests otherwise is either lying or hopelessly naive. But there is the expectation that the justices remain impartial, at least publicly. Unfortunately, the Justice’s comments are just another indication of how polarized everything in this country has become these days.
Liberals were livid at Justice Samuel Alito when he visibly disagreed with President Obama’s criticism of the Court’s Citizen’s United decision during his 2010 State of the Union Address. To be fair, a large number of liberals and Democrats are also condemning Justice Ginsburg’s remarks; but a lot them are defending her and that is troubling to me. Where is the consistency? What Ginsburg did this week is far worse than what Alito did six years ago.
What’s next? Is Justice Thomas going to bash Hillary Clinton for her email server? Do we get to the point where we see Supreme Court Justices actively campaigning for their preferred candidates?
Generally I avoid buying into “slippery slope” arguments, but this sets a bad precedent and I highly doubt this is the last time we will see a sitting justice publicly bash a presidential candidate.
Back in the old days, it was a general rule that Senators would never campaign against each other. They feared doing so would inhibit their ability to work with each other to pass important pieces of legislation. The rule largely held until 2004, when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist went to South Dakota and campaigned for Republican Candidate John Thune against his Senate colleague, and Minority Leader Tom Daschle.
Thune went on to narrowly defeat Sen. Daschle and a new precedent was set. These days it is unheard of to not see sitting Senators campaigning against their colleagues. And it is clear as day to see the effects have been disastrous as the Senate, and Congress as a whole, gets almost nothing done anymore.
In an age of hyper-polarization, the last thing this country needs is more of it. And that is exactly what Justice Ginsburg brought on with her comments, however accurate they may be.