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Law & the Courts

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Calls Kavanaugh Hearings a ‘Highly Partisan Show’

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

In a Wednesday appearance at George Washington University Law School, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lamented the degree to which partisanship has infected the judicial-confirmation process, calling Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanuagh’s recent confirmation hearing a “highly partisan show.”

Contrasting Kavanaugh’s hearings last week with her own, which occurred in 1993, Ginsburg called the partisan grandstanding of Democrats “wrong” and expressed a desire to return a spirit of collegiality to the process.

“The way it was was right. The way it is is wrong,” Ginsburg said to applause. “The atmosphere in ’93 was truly bipartisan. The vote on my confirmation was 96 to three, even though I had spent about ten years of my life litigating cases under the auspices of the ACLU and I was on the ACLU board. . . . That’s the way it should be, instead of what it’s become, which is a highly partisan show. The Republicans move in lock step, so do the Democrats. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it go back to the way it was.”

Kavanaugh, who was nominated by President Trump to replace retiring justice Anthony Kennedy, faced hours of intense questioning and veiled accusations of dishonesty from Democratic lawmakers at his hearings, and was interrupted on numerous occasions by protesters.

Democrats maligned Republicans for failing to make available documentation produced by Kavanaugh during a 35-month period working in the George W. Bush administration, and accused the nominee of lying during the hearings that confirmed him to a lower court about his involvement in crafting the legal underpinnings for the CIA’s enhanced-interrogation policy.

Following the hearing, Senator Kamala Harris disseminated a deceptively edited video that appeared to show Kavanaugh referring to some forms of contraception as “abortion-inducing drugs,” when he was in fact describing the view of a plaintiff in a case he’d ruled on.

Senator Dianne Feinstein released a statement Thursday indicating she’d received information from a constituent alleging Kavanaugh engaged in potentially criminal behavior. Though she maintained that she could not reveal further details about the accusation, she claimed to have referred the matter to law enforcement.

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