Bench Memos

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Justice Ginsburg Gets the Vapor


Gina Holland of the Associated Press filed a story yesterday evening on some remarks Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made to an ABA gathering yesterday in Washington.  In response to news of a proposal by Sen. Charles Grassley (R.-Iowa) that Congress create an office of inspector general to report on misconduct by federal judges, Justice Ginsburg said the idea reminded her of the Soviet Union and was “really scary.”  Which part?  The part where the inspector general beats Supreme Court clerks in the basement of the Court building until they give up the secrets of their bosses?  The part where the inspector general plants listening devices in the homes of federal judges and blackmails them into deciding cases to suit his institutional interests?  I’m sure Sen. Grassley hasn’t gotten around to putting those provisions in a bill yet, but we know the totalitarian impulse when we see it, don’t we?

Seriously, there may be merit or there may be none to Grassley’s idea, but there is no merit whatsoever to Justice Ginsburg’s overwrought response to it.

Justice Ginsburg also spoke wistfully of how the “bipartisan spirit” on display when she and Justice Breyer were confirmed a decade ago has “broken down.”  If she finds this a mystery, she can begin to solve it by reflecting on her own long career, off and on the bench, in contributing to the problem.  Including her latest contribution, just yesterday.

Tags: Franck


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