Ginsburg's Record Shows Will to Examine Both Sides

By Fatsis, Stefan | THE JOURNAL RECORD, June 17, 1993 | Go to article overview

Ginsburg's Record Shows Will to Examine Both Sides


Fatsis, Stefan, THE JOURNAL RECORD


NEW YORK _ Big business won't necessarily have a friend if Ruth Bader Ginsburg is confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. But it won't have a foe either.

After 13 years as a federal appeals court judge, the trailblazing women's rights lawyer is not easily pigeonholed on business-related issues, interviews and a review of her court decisions show.

Ginsburg's non-ideological bent, which lawyers say is consistent with her approach on other legal matters, is evident in rulings involving antitrust, environmental, regulatory and labor law.

"There are some judges you can always say will vote for business or will vote against business. You can never say that about Ruth Ginsburg," said Peter Huber, a law clerk for Ginsburg in 1982-83 and now a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

"If the law is reasonably clear on one side, that side with Ruth Ginsburg will win," Huber said. "She will give you the answer that is in the statutes or in the (regulations)."

With a meticulous approach to complex issues, Ginsburg, unlike other judges, has not appeared influenced by perceived personal political or ideological beliefs in cases before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington.

While appointed by President Carter, Ginsburg sided with appointees of President Reagan in several cases in the early 1980s reducing burdens on business under the federal Clean Air Act.

In 1986, she joined two decisions against strict enforcement of antitrust statutes written by Robert Bork, whose views _ including those opinions _ were attacked during hearings on his failed Supreme Court nomination.

Ginsburg also voted in the majority in a case criticizing federal attempts to block a merger of two drilling companies. That opinion was written by another conservative judge assailed during Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Clarence Thomas.

"It does show she has a capacity to go in either direction," said Alan Slobodin of the Washington Legal Foundation, a pro-business interest group. "She's really willing to look at both sides of the issues."

In June 1988, Ginsburg voted to uphold a federal rule lowering fuel-efficiency standards for 1986 model-year cars, backing the auto industry and rejecting interest group claims that the government was undermining energy conservation.

This January, however, she voted against the auto industry in a decision ordering the Environmental Protection Agency to require automakers to equip new cars and light trucks with canisters to trap vapors that escape when gasoline is pumped.

Despite her antitrust votes, Ginsburg in 1989 dissented from an opinion upholding Justice Department approval of a joint operating agreement for two Detroit newspapers. …

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