Two years ago, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lamented that if she were nominated today to her current job on the Supreme Court, her “ACLU connection would probably disqualify” her from being confirmed. Before becoming a judge, Ginsburg led the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project, where she was literally the single most important women’s rights attorney in American history. As Dahlia Lithwick explains, Ginsburg “almost single-handedly convinced the courts and legislatures to do away with gender classifications” in a range of cases and ushered in modern constitutional doctrine protecting women in the process.
At an event sponsored by the San Diego Association of Business Trial Lawyers on Friday, Ginsburg offered even stronger words of condemnation for our broken senate-confirmation process:
There were only three votes in opposition when she was confirmed to the court by the Senate, but in the past she has said that she doubts if in today’s more partisan political environment if she would be confirmed for the court.
She said Friday that she was hopeful that someday soon the partisan battles over court nominees will fade.
“I’m hoping there will be members of Congress who will say enough. We are destroying the United States’ reputation in the world as a beacon of democracy, and we should go back to the way it was, and the way it should be,” she said of the confirmation process.
It is likely that Ginsburg’s Court will soon take up a lower court’s decision that effectively eliminated the president’s power to make recess appointments. This decision came in the wake of an effort by Senate Republicans to effectively shut down entire federal agencies by filibustering anyone nominated to head them. A Supreme Court opinion reversing that lower court’s error will do little to address the problem of filibusters preventing judges from receiving lifetime appointments to the federal bench, but it will cut off the Senate GOP’s attempt to destroy entire agencies despite controlling neither the White House nor the Senate majority.