The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

Volokh Conspiracy

Justice Ginsburg on Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh

The Notorious RBG seems to like her newest colleagues.


The Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports on recent remarks by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during her annual "conversation" with Duke Law's Neil Seigel. The discussion covered quite a bit of ground, including some of the Court's more contentious decisions. This bit about the newest justices caught my eye:

Siegel noted that President Gerald Ford had said he had looked for the best legal mind in the country before selecting Stevens in 1975. He suggested that may not be the criterion for more recent court nominations.

But Ginsburg pushed back gently. "I can say that my two newest colleagues are very decent and very smart individuals," she said, referring to Trump's choices of Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Later, she invoked the pair when saying "there are a number of cases this term where we didn't divide along so-called party lines."

"Keen observers of what the court does will have noticed that I assigned an opinion this term to Justice Kavanaugh and two to Justice Gorsuch." The chance to assign majority opinions is dictated by seniority, so Ginsburg has the power only when Roberts and the court's longest-serving justice, Clarence Thomas, are on the other side.

Barnes also reports that Justice Ginsburg made no comment on the sexual assault allegations that arose during the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, but did note (as she has before) that Justice Kavanaugh "made history" by being the first justice to hire all female clerks for a single term. As a consequence, Barnes notes, this past term was the first time ever there were more female clerks than male clerks at the Court.

UPDATE: The full video of Justice Ginsburg's remarks is available here.