What Justice Ginsburg Gets

It wasn’t remotely surprising that right out of the box, someone like Michelle Dauber would find some way to spin it.

The legal profession does not care about sexual assault and lawyers will protect each other and the profession pretty much no matter what.

The problem was that she was constrained to attack an unattackable voice, the Notorious RBG. Obviously, it couldn’t be that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a rape apologist or misogynist, as her feminist bona fides, not to mention intelligence and legal acumen, soared so far above the puny Dauber’s that it was untouchable. So she aimed her arrows at lawyers, generally. And as one might expect of a non-lawyer Stanford lawprof, she missed the target completely.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to the defense of her more conservative colleagues on the bench, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

“I can say that my two newest colleagues are very decent and very smart individuals,” she said Wednesday at an event in Washington, D.C., hosted by Duke Law as she answered questions from Neil Siegel, a law professor and one of her former law clerks.

These remarks are shocking, but only if one is so deranged as to believe the hysteria promoted by the Linda Greenhouses of the media, that the Supreme Court is composed of unworthy partisan hacks, drooling at the opportunity to reverse Roe v. Wade.

Having spent a career being generally critical of the Supreme Court’s decisions, it’s almost painful to have to say this, but it needs to be said. These are exceptionally smart and accomplished people who are doing their jobs with integrity. Yeah, we can vehemently disagree with a decision, but not because they’re hacks or fools.

As Justice Jackson said, the Supreme Court isn’t “final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” And from the ground, they get it wrong sometimes. Hell, many times. But not because they’re a bunch of evil fools.

There are smart federal judges and, well, not-as-smart judges. There are open-minded judges and judges whose minds are less open. There are judges who remain on the bench past their expiration date. And there are a few who are bad people. Sam Kent comes to mind. Ironically, some judges who might not meet the “good behavior” criteria were still good judges. Koz was a legal legend, who appreciated a decent blawg post, even though he was personally a pig.

Are we better off with a judge whose behavior wasn’t awful but whose decisions are? The best answer, of course, is that we should expect both from a judge, and there are certainly enough lawyers and judges around to pick from that we need not suffer either personal impropriety or dumb decisions.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg says these two justices, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, fit the the bill. How can that be, you wonder, given the awful things being said about Kavanaugh and, well, Gorsuch hasn’t been besmirched by the taint of sexual impropriety, but he stole Merrick Garland’s seat and can never be forgiven. Then again, he didn’t actually steal anything, and the disgraceful conduct of the Senate Republicans in ignoring Garland’s nomination isn’t Gorsuch’s personal fault.

As for Kavanaugh, Ginsburge praises his decision to hire four female law clerks.

“There is a very important first on the Supreme Court this term, and it’s thanks to our new justice, Justice Kavanaugh, whose entire staff is all women. All of his law clerks are women,” she said earlier this month at a event held by Georgetown Law. “And with his four women as law clerks, it’s the first time in the history of the United States that there have been more women clerking at the court than men.”

Might some suggest the only reason he did this was to grope them, or ogle their cleavage? When one is obsessed with their delusion, ridiculous claims come easily. Regardless of what one believes as to Kavanaugh’s high school and college conduct, whether they’re “antics” or sexual assault, there is nothing to suggest that the intervening decades haven’t produced a serious jurist who conducts himself above reproach now, just as he did on the circuit before when nobody questioned his competency or integrity.

Demonizing Gorsuch and Kavanaugh has become the fashion trend of the day, along with indulging in fantastical fixes to take back the Supreme Court when the revolution seizes the Senate and the presidency. It’s fostered by fear and loathing, by predictions of the sky falling at the hands of these partisan animals.

It’s my intention to be as harshly critical of decisions of the Supreme Court as I think they warrant, and I will not hesitate to rip them to shreds when I think them wrong. But to create these cartoon villains out of these justices is ludicrous. They may well decide in a way I find completely wrong in any given case, but disagreement over opinions does not make them less smart or less decent.

Don’t believe me because I’m horrible? Fair enough. Believe the Notorious RBG.

13 thoughts on “What Justice Ginsburg Gets

  1. B. McLeod

    Daubers gonna daub, right? I am surprised she hasn’t felt compelled to resign from that awful university that took money from Epstein. Apparently there are settings in which her respect for personal profit overcomes her higher principles.

  2. Kathryn Kase

    Argh! I can’t stand it any longer!

    Perhaps the Linda Greenhouses of the media did write that SCOTUS is “comprised of” unworthy hacks. But one would hope they — and perhaps even you, dear Scott — would know enough grammar to also know that two halves comprise the whole, while the whole is composed of two halves.

    Here endeth my grammar snit.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m going to change, but only because I care deeply for your emotional well-being. But it’s going to hurt Beth’s feelings.

  3. pml

    I guess I don’t understand something here. In order to practice law you must graduate from a accredited law school, pass the Bar exam, and be admitted to practice. In NY its a Felony to practice law without a license.

    However to be a Professor at a law school teaching people the law, you do not have to be a licensed attorney? You can just be some nobody that gets hired, even though you never learned that profession?

    I can’t think of any other professor that I have ever met that didn’t have a background in what they taught.

    1. SHG Post author

      So what part don’t you understand? Dauber is not a lawyer. Maryanne Franks is not a lawyer. Notice a theme developing?

        1. wilbur

          pml, your assumption is far from unreasonable.

          That said, [Ed. Note: deleted because what the hell are you thinking?]

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