Bench Memos

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


Matthew J. Franck — Matthew J. Franck is the Director of the William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey.

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