Bench Memos

Ginsburg: “I Would Not Look to the U.S. Constitution”

As part of a beyond-parody visit to Egypt to celebrate the supposed Arab spring, Justice Ginsburg stated in an interview (transcript here, video here), “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” She instead recommended the South Africa constitution (“a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights and an independent judiciary”), Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the European Convention on Human Rights as preferable models.

I gather (though it’s not entirely clear) that Ginsburg prefers these other documents as models because they set forth a more robust statement of “basic human rights” and thus give the judiciary an even stronger role than our system does. If that’s the case, it means that she favors giving citizens less say in using the processes of representative government to make and revise decisions about what is good public policy. 

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