Phi Beta Cons

Sad Story of Ruth

Ruth Ginsburg disgraced herself and the Supreme Court with her recent remarks on the Constitution. In an interview on Egyptian television, she said she would not recommend the American Constitution for any country designing a government today. She suggested other models, among them the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Constitution of the Government of South Africa. These support so-called “human rights,” which include enforcing group equality through racial preferences.

I guess it’s no surprise that Ginsburg thinks this way, inasmuch as she evokes the Orwellian-sounding United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Racial Discrimination and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in her Supreme Court concurrences and dissents even when interpreting American law. And with all her invocation of these documents, she hasn’t been able to secure a straightforward, undisputed constitutional right for minorities and women to group preferences in order to achieve “de facto equality,” as she terms it, although admittedly Grutter came close. But you might have thought that she would refrain from saying such things on foreign soil out of respect for the Court, the Constitution, her colleagues, and the American people. And she might at least have made clear that she doesn’t like the American ideal of equality of individuals before the law but favors group equality instead, so that everyone would know what is at stake. (Maybe SCOTUS nominees should be asked if they approve of the Constitution as written or wish to make it over in the image of places like South Africa and Canada.)

Of course there are a couple of ironies here. The South African laws promoting group preferences were largely inspired by efforts in America to advance affirmative action. Another irony is that at a talk some time ago by a South African scholar, also attended by members of his family, I discovered that they are afraid to walk around their city; whites and Jews are subject to quotas in medical and other professional schools; and many young people are hoping to leave the country never to return. That’s the Left for you: Design a constitution that fulfills their deepest dreams for human equality, and thereby create a nation in which it is a nightmare to live. 

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