A sitting Supreme Court Justice has been roundly criticized for criticizing a candidate for president. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a strong liberal voice on the Court had these words (among others) to say about Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump:
“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the Court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that…He is a faker. He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego… How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that.”
O.K., I admit that, in my lifetime, I do not recall a Supreme Court Justice ever weighing in on a presidential campaign with such words (of course, there has never been a candidate who inspires comment quite like Trump and that has a lot to do with it), but Justices have, certainly, expressed their views in other, much more direct, ways.
Most recently, in the 2000 Bush v. Gore opinion, a conservative Supreme Court majority declared the winner of the presidential election to be Bush when the electorate, by popular vote, chose Gore. The 2000 election stands as the only election in the history of this country where the elected president lost the popular vote by over 500,000 votes.* As a result of the Supreme Court’s involvement in the 2000 election, we had eight years of Bush, along with the Iraq disaster, Isis, and a host of other problems that we still suffer from today.
Back to Ginsburg: What exactly did she say about Trump that isn’t true? Is he hard to imagine? Has he turned over his tax returns? Does he speak without thinking? Is the press going easy on him and enjoying his controversial approach to politics? Is he being held accountable for his statements and his policy positions?
While the critical press has referenced what she said about him, what he said about her has been lost in the rhetoric and what he said is significantly worse. Trump called on Justice Ginsburg to resign and said: “Her mind is shot”. This strongly appears to be a comment on her status as an octogenarian. Trump has been accused of having made offensive remarks about almost everyone, including Latinos, women, Blacks, Chinese, Mormons, Jews, Muslims and Native Americans but now it appears that senior citizens can be added to the list. Apparently, if you speak ill of Trump, any group to which you are a part may be on his hate list. Only “the poorly educated” have escaped his wrath.
I agree that Justice Ginsburg should not have weighed in on Trump; she should be above the fray. Although those familiar with her opinions will understand that she must dislike everything Trump says, she should maintain a professional impartiality (unlike Reinquist, Scalia, Thomas, Kennedy and O’Conner did in Bush v. Gore).
However, Donald Trump has seemingly stereotyped another group and no one is calling him on it. “Her mind is shot,” tweeted Trump. Why is that statement O.K.? In my humble opinion, “the press seems to be very gentle with him on that”.
*There have been three other presidential elections where the candidate winning the majority of electoral votes did not win the popular vote:
- 1824: Andrew Jackson won popular vote by 38,000 votes but got less than 50% of the electoral votes. Actually, neither Jackson nor John Quincy Adams received enough electoral votes to win. The House of Representatives declared Adams the winner even though Jackson had more electoral and popular votes.
- 1876: Samuel Tilden won the popular vote by 250,000 votes but lost by one electoral vote to Rutherford B. Hayes (185-184).
- 3. 1888: Grover Cleveland won the popular vote by 90,000 votes but lost the electoral vote 233 to 168.
Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series—Mark Bello is also the CEO of Lawsuit Financial and the country’s leading expert in providing non-recourse lawsuit funding to plaintiffs involved in pending litigation. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.