Bench Memos

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sotomayor and Abortion for Undesired “Populations”

In this interview from this coming Sunday’s issue of the New York Times Magazine, Justice Ginsburg sees fit to offer her views on a range of matters, including:

1.  Interviewer Emily Bazelon states that Ginsburg “was forceful about why she thinks Sotomayor should be confirmed.”  Just the topic, of course, that any Supreme Court justice should see fit to opine on the day before a confirmation hearing starts.

Ginsburg offers this feeble defense of Sotomayor’s “wise Latina woman” comment:  “Think of how many times you’ve said something that you didn’t get out quite right, and you would edit your statement if you could.”  Ginsburg is evidently unaware that Sotomayor’s comment was part of a text that Sotomayor herself prepared and later published as a law-review article (and that she repeated on several occasions).

2.  Speaking of something that maybe “didn’t get out quite right” (but maybe did):  As part of her broad-ranging discussion of abortion, Ginsburg offers this, er, interesting comment why the Court’s 1980 decision in Harris v. McRae, which ruled that the Hyde Amendment’s exclusion of nontherapeutic abortions from Medicaid reimbursement was constitutionally permissible, “surprised” her:

Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion. Which some people felt would risk coercing women into having abortions when they didn’t really want them. But when the court decided McRae, the case came out the other way. And then I realized that my perception of it had been altogether wrong.

Gee, Justice Ginsburg, would you like to tell us more about your views on those populations that “we don’t want to have too many of”? 

[Cross-posted on The Corner]


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