Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Re: Is Bill Clinton Saying that Justice Ginsburg Lied to the Senate?

Two follow-ups to my post yesterday:

1. In his “Best of the Web” column, the Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman highlights my post but argues that Bill Clinton’s broader credibility problems mean that “Justice Ginsburg deserves every benefit of the doubt in responding to the new Clinton claim.”

I disagree. To be sure, Clinton shouldn’t be trusted to tell the truth when lying is in his self-interest. But it is difficult to see how he would have had any incentive to lie about his discussion of Roe v. Wade in his 1993 interview of Ginsburg for the Supreme Court vacancy. The details of his account also make it persuasive.

I’d be very interested in what Ginsburg would have to say “in responding to the new Clinton claim.” But I’d bet that she stays mum.

2. The lack of interest of the mainstream media in Clinton’s remarks is astounding.

Imagine the uproar if, say, George W. Bush stated that he had discussed Roe with John Roberts before nominating him, in order to make sure that Roberts was solidly anti-Roe. But the mainstream media apparently sees little noteworthy in the news, from Clinton’s own mouth, that he discussed Roe with Ginsburg before nominating her, in order to make sure that she was solidly in support of a constitutional right to abortion, and that Ginsburg “knew … perfectly well” why he was discussing Roe with her. (The Washington Post account of the event completely passed over the abortion remarks.)

Add to that the fact that Ginsburg denied under oath to the Senate that any such discussion occurred, and you’d think that you’d have quite a story. But the same media that parrots flimsy and makeshift claims that this or that conservative justice gave misleading testimony at his confirmation hearing doesn’t seem to care that Clinton has provided compelling evidence that Ginsburg lied.

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