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Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg > "Notorious RBG"

Professor Rick Hasen on why its a bad idea to treat Supreme Court justices like celebrities (and why justices should not embrace their celebrity either).

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become known as the "Notorious RBG" -- and not always for the best reasons. She has attracted a following and is treated as much as a cultural or political icon as an esteemed jurist. She also has a penchant for commenting on current political controversies, including matters that could come before the court.

Professor Rick Hasen thinks this is a bad thing. While he blames the late Justice Antonin Scalia for starting the trend, he is particularly concerned about how viewing justices as celebrities -- and seeing Justice Ginsburg not as a jurist but the "Notorious RBG" -- affects our understanding of the law and the role of courts. As he explains in the LA Times:

Ginsburg has taken up the mantle of the court's most provocative public justice. . . .

As her public persona has grown, Ginsburg has embraced the "Notorious R.B.G." label. She's encouraged a cult of worship to grow up around her. There's hagiography like the "Notorious RBG" book and the "The RBG Workout," an illustrated book by her personal trainer. There's a Ginsburg tumblr and Ginsburg T-shirts.

Just this week, despite swearing off political statements, she said sexism played a prominent role in Hillary Clinton's election defeat. That may be true, but a sitting Supreme Court justice should not be weighing in on such questions.

It's dangerous for Supreme Court justices to assume such political roles, particularly when faith in our institutions is declining. If justices are going to be public figures, they should do so in ways that reinforce the rule of law, not partisan politics.

As Professor Hasen explains, the more we view justices as belonging to one "team" or another, the more we undermine the ideals of the neutral administration of justice and the rule of law. As he concludes:

Justice Ginsburg is a hero. She deserves our thanks for her exemplary service. But the left needn't turn her into a god and conservative justices into devils.

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  • loki13||

    He's not wrong.

    That said, only a very small part of this is due to RBG herself; a much larger part is due to SNL and memes. Of course, that doesn't excuse her "leaning in" to her celebrity.

    All that said, I think you are missing the greater takeaway from this article. RBG, for all of this bizarre, Kate-McKinnon,inspired and meme-driven semi-celebrity, will not be with us much longer. For more interesting was what this means; as the article point out, it was unusual, to say the least, for Gorsuch to so quickly make a semi-political appearance. It isn't good when conservative jurists appear at the FedSoc, and liberal ones at the ACS, and never the twain shall meet. It isn't good when jurists become rock stars for a political party, akin to a star QB for your football team, as opposed to ... you know, judges.

  • Jonathan Adler||

    I agree that it is good when jurists speak to the "other side," as when then-Judge Michael Luttig spoke at one of the first ACS conventions, or when Judge David Barron speaks at a FedSoc conference (as he did this past fall). It would be great if we had more of that sort of thing.

  • Joe_JP||

    A basic thing regarding RBG -- surely at this level -- was that it was a result of basically a final lap in her golden years, so to speak, and not something done her whole career ala Scalia.

    Anyway, RBG was a Scalia bestie and as I recall praised the Federalist Society as promoting the world of legal ideas. Her popping up at an event would seem a doable idea.

  • loki13||

    "Anyway, RBG was a Scalia bestie and as I recall praised the Federalist Society as promoting the world of legal ideas"

    Yeah, this was fairly well-reported. IIRC, they used to attend opera together. You'd have to be best friends to go to an opera with someone. :)

    But that's what is missing from all of these ... people ... commenting here. It is possible to respect someone while still disagreeing with their political views. Well, it should be, even if the craven and pathetic commenters that often populate there threads are unable to.

    (Which is why, for example, I will often make fun of Alito, but when asked, I still acknowledge that Alito is a pretty good jurist- just one that I truly disagree with on most issues.)

  • kramartini||

    Nothing wrong with any judge speaking to the FedSoc or ACS, so long as the speech is about law and not politics.

  • AmosArch||

    Thats pretty much most leftwing heroes. Look at Che, squeaky Stalin, Hollyweird is pretty much entirely about remaking people into something they're not. The left has a long history of experience in this sort of thing.

    In contemporary politics you have...another doddering geriatric bossy hippy inexplicably turned into a hip youth icon purely through a well coordinated social media campaign and meming that almost unseated the establishment Democratic candidate in the last election. Then there's the current PM of Canada who looks like he'd have been beaten up for his lunch money as a kid if Daddy was just a regular joe. If the public was left alone to organically develop an opinion about 'Notorious RBG' she'd probably be seen like most judges more as some weird old coot who does legal stuff nobody cares about. And specifically in her case an old coot who passes out regularly in the courtroom.

  • loki13||

    "Thats pretty much most leftwing heroes. Look at Che, squeaky Stalin, Hollyweird is pretty much entirely about remaking people into something they're not. The left has a long history of experience in this sort of thing."

    Does the total lack of self-awareness make AmosArch funny, depressing, or vaguely scary?

    Discuss.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Irrelevant. Conservatives are destined to continue to watch American society continue to progress against conservative preferences and efforts for the entirety of the medium- to long-term future. Muttering bitterly and inconsequentially about illusory "good old days," or celebrating an occasional delay in the pace of American progress, seems the best for which a conservative may reasonably hope these days.

    Justice Ginsburg: Perky, perspicacious and prescient.

  • AmosArch||

    Are you going to point out what I said thats demonstratively wrong or are you just going to call it that and declare victory?

  • loki13||

    There is no victory, AmosArch, because, again, you lack the self-awareness to understand, and the desire to change.

    What? You think there is "victory" in conversations on the internet. Good luck with that.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Because I enjoy overexplaining, the irony I enjoyed was your vehemence-in-place-of-evidence adherence to a narrative that liberal propaganda makes people vehemently adhere to false narratives.

  • AmosArch||

    Evidence? Ummm...this topic wouldn't exist for us to be posting on if the influence of leftwing hagiography was as nonexistant as you seem to be trying to imply for starters. I see you automatically discounted all the examples I offered but I'd like to see you offer a better explanation how a bossy socialist grampa so lazy he was kicked out of a hippy commune suddenly became the coolest thing for the kids to repost on their social media timelines after 70+ years of nobody caring about his existence.

  • NToJ||

    Have you ever actually met someone who thinks Stalin is a hero?

  • AmosArch||

    Several people, especially on college campuses admire or don't think he was such a bad guy. Now its still a little too much to openly declare yourself as such and run for President. But the fact that you can far more easily find Marxist studies as an official field of study on many 'respectable' campuses but not Nazi Studies and calling someone a Nazi is almost always an insult to them but calling someone a Communist is half the time used ironically as a backhanded jab at the hypothetical accuser should clue you to how much more effective the left's propaganda and influence is.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Some people complain about this site's commenting system, but I contend its ability to deliver comments from 1950s Alabama is a marvel.

  • damikesc||

    When it mattered, good old "Uncle Joe" was not disliked, in the slightest, by the Left.

    Sure, years after the fact, the Left can take stands...but when the issues are relevant, they tend to be either silent or comically wrong.

  • Longtobefree||

    Of course, after her blatantly prejudicial and sexist comment on the late election, she should recuse herself from all SC cases where a man is involved. But I bet your next paycheck she will not recuse from any cases at all.

  • Sarcastr0||

    she should recuse herself from all SC cases where a man is involved

    LOL.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    What did you expect, Sarcastro? These are the goobers who figured a gay judge should recuse himself on all matters not entirely heterosexual, wholesome, Christian, and backward-focused.

  • ThomasD||

    Double secret reverse irony?

    Who can tell?

    More importantly, who cares?

  • apedad||

    I understand the concern about Justices' impartiality.

    I wonder. . . do we have the same concern about a President who calls a suspect in a mass murder "mentally disturbed?"

  • Bob from Ohio||

    Is the President judging the case? Then his partiality is not an issue.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "I wonder. . . do we have the same concern about a President who calls a suspect in a mass murder "mentally disturbed?""

    Since there has never been a tradition of or a legal requirement for impartiality on the part of a President, I would have to say no.

  • Bored Lawyer||

    Is the President a judge?

  • FlameCCT||

    I would also note that almost every mass murder, especially the more recent cases, have all had a history of mental illness.

  • apedad||

    For those of you who asked if the President is a judge--of course not you dolts.

    However, the President does lead the investigators and prosecutors.

    Aren't we supposed to be concerned about their impartiality too?

  • ThomasD||

    Yes, POTUS is indeed the chief law enforcement officer of the Federal government.

    Last I heard this mentally disturbed individual is facing State charges.

    So, while I do think Trump, in this instance acted stupidly Obamalike, it also does not appear to be particularly prejudicial.

  • David Nieporent||

    Contrary to what Trumpistas think about the Russia investigation, no, investigators and prosecutors need not be impartial.

  • Martinned||

    I'm afraid this ship has sailed some time ago. It's pretty much by Fiji by now.

  • great Unknown||

    If this affects anybody's understanding of Law and the Courts, then they haven't been paying attention. As the great philosopher Tomlin said, "No matter how cynical I get, I can't keep up."

  • loveconstitution1789||

    She's the dumbest lady around. She thought she could retire because Hillary would be president and now she will croak soon. Trump will get the opportunity to replace her.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    She has made a career of overcoming paunchy, stale-thinking white men.

    She survived Justice Scalia. Pres. Trump seems likely to become just another notch on Justice Ginsburg's gavel.

  • Sam Gompers||

    Only because Scalia was murdered.

  • santamonica811||

    Poe's Law???

  • Sam Gompers||

    Pillow on top of his face. "Pillow biters". It doesn't take the corrupt partisans at the Federal Bureau of Matters to figure this one out.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Wow...that doesn't even rise to the level of a wall with string and grainy photos.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    In light of this, and Scalia's health issues, I kind of doubt he was murdered.

    I'm still open to the possibility that the Chief Justice was blackmailed, though...

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Arty will be wiping spit from his mouth for weeks after RBG croaks and Trump replaces her position with another good originalist justice like Gorsuch.

  • Sarcastr0||

    I know when Obama passed the ACA the only thing I cared about was how it would make the conservatives angry!

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You keep waiting for an altrustic, tough, thin old woman to die. I will focus on the mortality prospects of a flabby old man with an ugly soul.

    That's just a sideshow, though. In the broader context, I am content to watch my preferences continue to prevail in American over those of downscale, bigoted, authoritarian, superstitious right-wingers. It's been a great ride for a half-century, and I just wish I could be around to watch another half-century of liberal-libertarian-driven American progress.

  • DjDiverDan||

    RBG is certainly NOT the "dumbest lady around." She's not even the dumbest lady on the Supreme Court, with Sonia Sotomayor around. Though RBG's joinder in Sotomayor's ridiculously idiotic dissent in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action certainly doesn't help her reputation. As to the "dumbest lady around", neither RBG nor Sotomayor are even in the running, as long as the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, and Eddie Bernice Johnson are around. And even after all of these are eliminated, there is a whole second tier of female politicians, like Elizabeth Warren, Diane Feinstein (well, maybe; it's possible that she's not dumb at all, just incredibly corrupt), Barbara Boxer, and others, who will keep RBG and Sotomayor out of the running for "dumbest lady around."

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I notice you don't include any bigoted, fairy-tale-believing, backward-focused women among your "dumbest" group.

    Perhaps your right-wing goo-goo eyes for intolerant, authoritarian, stale-thinking women is influencing your perception.

  • Joe_dallas||

    The problem is not that she expresses her opinions and preferences, it is that someone is on the court that allows her political preferences to decide the law.

    Look at the concurring opinion in ACA - "I am in favor of health care reform - therefore compelled commerce is constitutional"
    Same with her dissent in Shutte (ie Sotomayer) "our elites should have the power to discriminate in ways that I approve, therefore, following 14A is unconstitutional"
    Same with the AZ legislature / commission case for redistricting - I approve of the commission approving the redistricting plan therefore, the commission is the legislature.

  • loki13||

    Just going to point this out- if you say to look at something (say, a judicial opinion), and then you have quotation marks, a reasonable person would assume that you are, in fact, quoting from the opinion in question.

    You have to remember that not everyone who visits is familiar with your oeuvre, and therefore would not assume that you would falsely attribute quotes to make your own points.

  • NOVA Lawyer||

    But Joe Dallas was quoting RBG's internal monologue which conservatives can hear without even listening very closely. Perfectly legit.

  • OtisAH||

    "I never said anything remotely similar to what that idiot Joe_dallas says I said."

    -Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

  • santamonica811||

    Heh

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Best. Post. Today.

  • NOVA Lawyer||

    Bravo.

  • Flight-ER-Doc||

    The Reprehensible RBG.....

  • Bob from Ohio||

    "Justice Ginsburg is a hero."

    Sarcasm?

    I wonder what heroic thing she has ever done.

  • loki13||

    Well, gee. She grew up as the child of Russian Jewish immigrants to New York.

    From that, she managed go to college at Cornell, and get into Harvard Law School in 1956 as a woman. One of 9 in 500. This was at a time when it was still considered acceptable for the Dean of the law school to ask the women why they would take a position from a man. She later transferred to Columbia Law School, where she graduated first in her class. (By the way, she managed to be on both Columbia and Harvard's Law Reviews).

    Again, despite finishing FIRST IN HER CLASS, she had trouble finding employment. I know, right! Despite some horror stories, she persevered both in academia and, later, as skilled advocate and litigator before the Supreme Court.

    She is only the second woman ever appointed to SCOTUS, and she has some groundbreaking opinions (personally, I find her procedural opinions to be the best; I love a good Ginsburg opinion on the FRCP).

    But yeah, other than everything she has done in her life, who really cares? After all, if it doesn't serve Bob's craven and pathetic partisan interests, it doesn't really matter, amirite?

  • Bob from Ohio||

    Going to law school and writing judicial opinions! What a hero!

    Thanks for making my point.

  • loki13||

    Actually, you made mine. Because you somehow missed exactly what was important.

    As you would, because that's just the type of person that you've shown yourself to be.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You think lawyers are upstanding TOP MEN or in this case TOP WOMEN who know what is best for us.

    Most of us don't think that.

    RBG has hurt American freedom and Liberty in numerous ways. One way is voting for the unconstitutional ObamaCare to be constitutional. Forcing Americans to buy something is a disgrace. This includes the RINO John Roberts.

  • loki13||

    Actually, I think RBG would have been a hero even if she had died prior to being appointed to the D.C. Cir.

    That she continued to be an accomplished jurist on that appellate court, and then the Supreme Court, is just a bonus.

    Just so you know- calling a judge a RINO isn't the insult you think it is.

  • NOVA Lawyer||

    Bob and 1789 (if those are your real names), you are taking a beating.

    Maybe consider that it is okay to admit someone has accomplished something in their life, even if you disagree with their ideology.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    The beatings these guys take around here are entertaining, but let's not forget that the important lickings are the ones they have taken for more than a half-century in America. Race relations, abortion, religion in schools, progressive social programs, treatment of women, the drug war, abusive policing, treatment of agnostics and atheists, environmentalism, treatment of gays . . . conservatives have been losing in America throughout the lives of everyone reading this.

    And it is just going to get worse for right-wingers. Bitter, inconsequential muttering and fevered bigotry are about all they have to look forward to.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    I am sorry, she finished FIRST IN HER CLASS. Think of all the papercuts she had to endure!

    Is the Medal of Honor appropriate or do we need some sort of super-duper new medal to honor this?

  • loki13||

    Bob's opinions-

    A woman who overcame adversity and showed that she was the best by finishing first in her class at Columbia, with all the odds and prejudice against her in the late 50s, and still had to enlist the help of (male) professors to get a (male) judge to allow her to clerk is nothing special.

    Because the playing field is, what, equal today, so people should stop whining, right Bob? And it's level today because of the work of people like Ginsburg, who Bob thinks are nothing special, because it was level back then too, right Bob?

    Pathetic and craven are actually too nice for you.

  • Bob from Ohio||

    Still not heroic.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    If she turned toward backwardness, bigotry, ignorance, and the rest of the right-wing portfolio tomorrow, Bob from Ohio would become an RBG cheerleader overnight, including the short skirt and pom poms.

  • Eidde||

    She's brilliant and hard-working, and overcame unfair disadvantages.

    Of course, she's celebrated today by people who also like her judicial opinions, which is another subject.

  • loki13||

    "Of course, she's celebrated today by people who also like her judicial opinions, which is another subject."

    Well ... that's not quite right. To the extent that she's a celebrity (and we aren't talking Kim/Kanye) here, I would sincerely doubt that she's celebrated for her opinions. After all, how many people truly know of her epic smackdown of Scalia in Gasperini v. Center of Humanities?

    She's a celebrity because of an image of her presented by Kate McKinnon, and because of the memeworthiness of "The Notorious RBG." Yeah, there's also people who like her just because of her opinions (they are on the same side), much in the same way that craven and pathetic people like Bob reflexively genuflect on an Alito opinion in the same way that a dog licks its genitalia, but that's nothing more than assumed partisan affiliation.

  • ThomasD||

    Another brilliant, hard working immigrant woman from Russia who overcame tremendous disadvantages?

    Ayn Rand.

    Go on loki, tell us how much you respect and idolize Ayn Rand for her equal accomplishments.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    Wow. Loki's on a roll with all the name calling. I guess if Bob is craven, Loki is an asshole.

    The women in my family of Ginsburg's generation worked in factories their whole lives. They didn't have it tough like these lady Columbia law grads.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Whose fault is it that your family members didn't have the character (or perhaps the smarts) to become educated, skilled, and accomplished?

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "Whose fault is it that your family members didn't have the character (or perhaps the smarts) to become educated, skilled, and accomplished?"

    Yeah, Arthur, no one in my family will ever have your character, or smarts.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    For me, it's enough to compare your women to Justice Ginsburg.

    This helps to explain your crankiness. My condolences.

  • loki13||

    "Wow. Loki's on a roll with all the name calling."

    I'm done with people like Bob, and, apparently, you.

    "The women in my family of Ginsburg's generation worked in factories their whole lives. They didn't have it tough like these lady Columbia law grads."

    If you don't understand this, you're not even trying. But nice anonymous "whataboutism."

    "Go on loki, tell us how much you respect and idolize Ayn Rand for her equal accomplishments."

    Actually, I do respect Ayn Rand. I don't, personally, find her accomplishments to be equal because I place a great weight on helping others and service, as opposed to selfishness. But that's just me! I know, I happen to believe that RBG deserves respect for overcoming her personal circumstances, as well as societal circumstances, and then using her position to advocate for other women- helping craft decisions and a legal strategy in the 70s in much the same way that the NAACP advocated for equality of the races in the early 20th century. But yeah, while I'm not a huge fan of Rand (and certainly not her style of writing), more power to her!

  • Sarcastr0||

    I don't care for name calling, largely because people use it as a dodge to not talk about my comments but about what a bad person I am.

    So I'd have done without the last paragraph. But I understand loki's venting, and he did follow it up with some substance about why he was so exasperated.

  • NOVA Lawyer||

    I actually thought the "craven and pathetic" worked quite well as it applied both to some on the left who simply cheer for people they believe to be on their "team" and the obviously craven and pathetic Bob. Sometimes, a spade must be called a spade to make the substantive point.

  • TwelveInchPianist||

    "But I understand loki's venting, and he did follow it up with some substance about why he was so exasperated."

    I do too. He's exasperated because Bob disagrees with him, and he thinks that that justifies being a dick. Quite a rarity on the internet, I tell you.

  • Sam Gompers||

    Omg a woman did things! HERO!

    It's so heroic whenever a woman does things! HERO!

  • santamonica811||

    I know!
    Rosa Parks? Hell, she rode a bus. Nothing heroic about that. I ride buses all the time.
    Rep. John Lewis? He walked across a bridge. Big deal...I've walked across dozens of bridges.
    Attorney General Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus? Yawn. So they quit their jobs in protest. I've quit jobs before.

    Bob, Sam, et al seem to live in a context-free and irony-free world. It's like they are genetically incapable of saying, "Yeah, she did overcome a lot of unfair adversity in her life. Doesn't change the fact that I think she's a lousy Justice." Their point would still be made. But no, they have to look like dopes and die on their "But but but . . . she simply can't have done anything heroic." hill. sigh

  • Bob from Ohio||

    Parks and Lewis put their safety on the line. Ruthie did not.

    [Richardson and Ruckelshaus were not heroes at all. They quit rather than do their duty. And were applauded for it.]

    Clarence Thomas overcome much more adversity than Ruthie did in any event. He is not a hero either.

  • Sarcastr0||

    Funny how many assume her being a woman is essential to her persona. I disagree - it's largely that she isn't super buttoned up and has an evocative nickname.

    Have you seen the fun people have with 'Diamond Joe Biden?'

  • damikesc||

    Have you seen the fun people have with 'Diamond Joe Biden?'

    It's "Creepy Uncle" Joe Biden.
    Or "I have Candy in My Van" Joe Biden

  • NOVA Lawyer||

    Richardson and Ruckelshaus refused to participate in interference with an investigation after having promised Congress that they would not interfere in the investigation. They were men of integrity and men of their word. I see why Bob would be scornful of them.

  • FlameCCT||

    I didn't realize that Rep. John Lewis was a woman or does he just identify as a woman?

  • David Nieporent||

    (By the way, she managed to be on both Columbia and Harvard's Law Reviews).

    Come on. Even Obama was on HLR; how hard can it be?

  • William_Zanzinger||

    "It's dangerous for Supreme Court justices to assume such political roles"

    I thought we could stop with the "SCOTUS is not political" charade after Bush v. Gore. The whole Garland/Gorsuch situation highlighted the political role of the institution. Why do people still feel compelled to pretend otherwise?

  • Bob from Ohio||

    I thought we could stop with the "SCOTUS is not political" charade after Marbury v. Madison.

  • Sam Gompers||

    The entire judicial system has been exposed as a fake political organization whose real intent isn't to fairly adjudicate issues based upon the law or the constitution, but as a tool to impose policy preferences.

    Trump has brought this to the surface. We get to see the institutional rot of the 3rd branch of our government in all of it's glory.

  • Sarcastr0||

    You mean conservatives will yell even louder that the Court are illegitimate tyrants in black robes whenever a decision isn't quite what they wanted?

    I'm pretty secure sure that's possible - the nob has been stuck at 11 since Bork.

  • Sam Gompers||

    Did you see that judge who ordered the illegal released from jail because there was a constitutional right to saying goodbye to your family?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Did you see the judge who let the mentally ill minor get put to death anyway?

    Generalizing based on anecdotes keeps the engine running, but it doesn't keep it clean...

  • PoxOnBothYourHouses||

    Sam Gompers: "The entire judicial system has been exposed as a fake political organization whose real intent isn't to fairly adjudicate issues based upon the law or the constitution, but as a tool to impose policy preferences."

    Which is why who holds the Senate is so important. And it's why the Republicans held up Garland's vote (though they were bastards in playing such Realpolitik).

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Basically the whole Court agreed that what was going down in Florida in 2000 wasn't kosher. The minority just didn't think they should do anything about it.

    I have some sympathy for that view, it was actually the House's responsibility to sort the matter out, not the judiciary's.

  • kramartini||

    But read Chief Justice Rehnquist's concurrence, especially where he invokes Article II, Section I.

    He makes a persuasive case that disputes over rules governing the selection of electors necessarily invoke a Federal Question, since the power to make rules governing the selection of electors is granted by the US Constitution.

  • kramartini||

    Critics of the Court tend to be far more political than the Court itself.

  • Eidde||

    "As Professor Hasen explains, the more we view justices as belonging to one "team" or another, the more we undermine the ideals of the neutral administration of justice and the rule of law."

    The problem is that the idea of justices belonging to rival "teams"...has a large measure of truth.

    That's the reason they're seen as "belonging to one 'team' or another"...because to a great extent they do.

    If the public one day stopped believing this and chose to regard the Supreme Court as above politics, then the public would be wrong.

  • Eidde||

    If you sincerely believe that the Supreme Court's liberal wing is defending the Constitution against conservative wreckers - and plenty of law professors believe this, even if they're more polysyllabic than the general public in expressing such views - then it's only fair to cheer the liberal team for supporting Justice and Fairness.

    If on the contrary you believe that the conservative wing of the court is defending the Constitution from left-wing attacks, then it would be base ingratitude not to cheer the conservatives.

  • Martinned||

    Actually, the traditional 5/4 split doesn't show up in nearly as many cases as you'd think. It's just the ones that are the most high-profile. (Though not necessarily the most important.)

    See bottom table here: http://www.scotusblog.com/statistics/

  • Martinned||

    Ah, found the more detailed table now: http://www.scotusblog.com/wp-c.....170628.pdf

    Last term only six cases that went by a traditional left/right split. (The 7 listed there, minus Cooper v. Harris, the North Carolina districting case, where Justice Thomas joined the liberals to form a majority.)

  • Eidde||

    I am aware of that, but I don't think you can rebut the idea of the Court being divided into rival teams by pointing out that "look, they agree on the interpretation of Section Z(a)(IV)(ii) of the Tax Code," or "look, they share the same views concerning Chapter XI, Paragraph 78 of the District of Columbia Traffic Ordinances!"

    They are at odds over such matters as abortion, the legal definition of marriage, etc. In other words, on fundamental issues.

  • Martinned||

    That was exactly my point: interpreting section Z(a)(IV)(ii) of the Tax Code is actually a much more central part of what the Justices do all day than many people realise. We shouldn't think of them like philosopher kings who do nothing but opine about abortion and marriage all day.

  • Eidde||

    "We shouldn't think of them like philosopher kings who do nothing but opine about abortion and marriage all day."

    I don't think of them that way.

  • Sarcastr0||

    The problem is that the idea of justices belonging to rival "teams"...has a large measure of truth.

  • Eidde||

    And you interpret that to mean, "the justices do nothing but opine about abortion and marriage all day"?

  • Sarcastr0||

    So you're saying they're on separate teams but don't play the game?

  • Eidde||

    I have absolutely no idea what kind of straw man beliefs you're trying to impute to me, and I have no interest in figuring it out.

  • Sarcastr0||

    No, I'm honestly curious - what is the functional meaning of 'being on rival teams' if said teams are only evident in a small proportion of cases they decide?

  • Eidde||

    So to be clear, you're not imputing to me the position that "the justices do nothing but opine about abortion and marriage all day"?

  • Sarcastr0||

    Correct.

    My confusion is that if you do not believe that, how do you integrate that with your belief that the Justices are on rival teams to a great extent?

  • Eidde||

    They're on opposite sides of several major issues - from abortion to marriage to church/state relations. And reading their opinions, it's clear the Justices themselves deem these to be important issues.

    I'm reminded of the joke about the defendant accused of robbery, who talks to his lawyer.

    The lawyer says, "this is serious - the prosecution has five witnesses who claim they saw you rob the bank."

    The defendant simply shrugs and says, "so what, I can get twenty witnesses who *didn't* see me rob the bank."

    So you can get plenty of witnesses about how the Justices are chummy and agreeable on other issues, it doesn't affect in the slightest their being on different teams when it comes to the divisive issues I mentioned.

  • Joe_JP||

    The Supreme Court will in various respects especially when it is chosen by political actors reflect ideological splits in the general public. It was true in the days of John Marshall/Story v. Jefferson-Republicans and it is today. A matter of degree does matter here as seen in a recent article that argued that there is a middle four on the current Court that finds agreement across typical ideological lines. Everything isn't a 5-4 thing. But, surely, there will be people leaning one way or the other, certain justices specifically appealing to one or the other side. Again, the political way we pick judges to some degree promotes this (presidents run on the sort of justices they would pick, e.g., pointing to one or the other as ideals).

  • MightyMouse||

    After watching one of her recorded stops, what I took away from it was this: it is a rally to bolster her will to live. Is it even ethical to take that away from her? If so, in what measure? Therefore, it would appear more ethical to insist the younger judges refrain from publicity, and less so the older.

    There may be an argument that this is the sacrifice required of every judge. However weighing the risk of greater national partisanship, I would think most people have the decency not demonize an individual of that age in the same way as they do the presidents.

  • MonitorsMost||

    Not a fan of Ha(n)sen. Not a fan of the what-about-ism/gertruding throughout the editorial. But he is right on the bigger issue. And he deserves credit for being right.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Hasen is alright at times, but he's pretty relentless about approaching things in a partisan way himself, and stunningly unaware of it.

    His heart's in the right place, though.

  • MonitorsMost||

    I don't agree. He went off the rails sometime during the second GWB term. Not sure what the breaking point was. He survived Bush v. Gore without going crazy and it would seem 2006-ish was a good time for his political preferences vis a vis elections.

  • CJColucci||

    Of the dead, let nothing but good be spoken. ... What? ... You're not talking about the late celebrity Justice Scalia and his fanboys? .... Never mind.

  • MightyMouse||

    Any justice's reasoning can be questioned without demonizing them, no?

  • kramartini||

    What I see is a frail old woman enjoying attention from young people.

    Within the last few years she has lost her husband and her best workplace friend (Scalia).

    Her embrace of of the spotlight might be excusable if she were retired, but is unacceptable for a sitting justice.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Compare her trajectory (and her control of Saturday Night Live) with Gorsuch's, and recognize your comment is silly.

    Carry on, clingers.

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