Newspaper article International New York Times

Justice Calls Her Criticism of Republican 'Ill Advised'

Newspaper article International New York Times

Justice Calls Her Criticism of Republican 'Ill Advised'

Article excerpt

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who derided Donald J. Trump in several interviews, said her comments were "ill advised."

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's indignant dissents from the bench have turned her into a heroine of the left, beloved for methodically skewering her conservative colleagues. On the internet, she has become the Notorious R.B.G.

But after being roundly criticized for a remarkable series of interviews in which she mocked Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, Justice Ginsburg on Thursday did something highly unusual for a member of the nation's highest court: She admitted making a mistake.

"Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office," she wrote in a brief statement issued by the court, admitting her remarks were "ill advised" and expressing regret. "In the future I will be more circumspect."

A revered figure at some of the nation's most elite law schools since her appointment to the court in 1993, Justice Ginsburg, 83, flabbergasted many in the legal community when she called Mr. Trump a "faker" and said she could not really imagine what it would be like if he became president.

Barry Friedman, a professor of law at New York University who describes himself as a friend of Justice Ginsburg's, said her comments were a stark example of a breach in the neutrality that justices must adhere to.

"The price you pay for being on the bench is that you withdraw from politics," Mr. Friedman said. "You need to be extremely circumspect."

Mark Tushnet, a law professor at Harvard, said Justice Ginsburg's comments reflected the divisive nature of today's politics, which had already affected the legislative and executive branches of government.

"Maybe this is an example of how hyperpolarization affects the court," he said.

In expressing her disdain for Mr. Trump, Justice Ginsburg was anything but circumspect, leading some to wonder whether, after 23 years at the court, she is looking toward a possible retirement after the presidential election.

Shana Knizhnik, the co-author of a biography titled "Notorious R.B.G.: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg," said the justice was well aware that her time on the bench would not last forever. But Ms. Knizhnik said she was still surprised by Justice Ginsburg's comments.

"She has always said she is going to do this job as long as she can do it full steam," Ms. Knizhnik said on Thursday. "But from an actuarial standpoint, she sees that there aren't going to be too many more elections during her tenure."

A legal advocate for most of her life, Justice Ginsburg made a name for herself when she represented the Women's Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in several landmark cases before the court on issues including gender discrimination, equal protection and due process. …

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