March 17, 2006


Ginsburg Faults GOP Critics, Cites a Threat From 'Fringe' (Charles Lane, 3/17/06, Washington Post)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg assailed the court's congressional critics in a recent speech overseas, saying their efforts "fuel" an "irrational fringe" that threatened her life and that of a colleague, former justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Addressing an audience at the Constitutional Court of South Africa on Feb. 7, the 73-year-old justice, known as one of the court's more liberal members, criticized various Republican-proposed House and Senate measures that either decry or would bar the citation of foreign law in the Supreme Court's constitutional rulings. Conservatives often see the citing of foreign laws in court rulings as an affront to American sovereignty, adding to a list of grievances they have against judges that include rulings supporting abortion rights or gay rights. [...]

Reflecting the tension between the two branches, O'Connor used a speech at Georgetown University Law Center last week to repeat her own past warnings about the threat to judicial independence posed by Republican criticisms of the court's rulings. She referred to comments by former House majority leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.) but did not name either man.

She noted that death threats against judges are rising, according to a National Public Radio report on the speech, but she did not refer to the Internet threat mentioned by Ginsburg. No transcript or recording of O'Connor's speech is publicly available.

Justice O'Connor reportedly suggested that we risk sliding into dictatorship. After all, if judges aren't allowed to overturn the will of the electorate and to impose foreign legal standards then....oops, never mind.

O'Connor Forecasts Dictatorship: Why didn't the American press chase the story? (Jack Shafer, March 13, 2006, Slate)

The smoke drifting out of your computer over the weekend was not the result of a fried motherboard but the scent of bloggers setting themselves on fire in response to Nina Totenberg's NPR Morning Edition Friday, March 10, dispatch. Totenberg had attended a speech at Georgetown University given the night before by retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in which O'Connor invoked the word "dictatorship" to describe the direction the country may be headed if Republicans continue to attack the judiciary.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 17, 2006 11:34 AM

"O'Connor used a speech at Georgetown University Law Center last week to repeat her own past warnings about the threat to judicial independence posed by Republican criticisms of the court's rulings."

I really hope that this is a misinterpretation of her remarks. The notion that the judiciary cannot be criticized is utterly insane. Sandy, if you want to be immunized from ever being able to be criticized, you should get a tenured faculty position...

Posted by: b at March 17, 2006 11:54 AM


She supposedly went much further:

Posted by: oj at March 17, 2006 12:02 PM

The SC Justices don't like it when their usurpations are highlighted. What better evidence could you find to make the case for their anti-constitutional behavior?

"Shut up!" the Guardians explained.

Posted by: Luciferous at March 17, 2006 12:19 PM

"C'mon Sandy baby, loosen up".

John Riggins was prescient.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 17, 2006 12:43 PM

they make you take a driving test every couple of years, to see if you are still competent. somehow, though, being a supreme court justice takes less mental capacity than driving to the local marie callendars for the early bird special.

Posted by: toe at March 17, 2006 1:14 PM

Though admittedly, it would be fun to see the reaction of Bruce Bartlett, Peggy Noonan and others if O'Connor -- reportedly miffed that she wasn't replaced by another woman -- was to come out and criticize Bush's Supreme Court choices and say he should be picking justices more in line with the ones Ronald Reagan selected.

Posted by: John at March 17, 2006 1:30 PM

Why isn't attending to her duties as Chancellor of William and Mary College?

Posted by: erp at March 17, 2006 2:57 PM

"Shut up!" the Guardians explained.

Thanks, Luciferous...been a lo-o-ong time since I saw that one!

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at March 17, 2006 5:28 PM