Donald Trump has clarified on Twitter that when he told the New York Times he hoped Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would “get off the court as soon as possible,” he did not mean that he hoped she died, but simply that she would resign.
The liberal firebrand has for several days issued stinging criticisms of the presumptive Republican nominee’s policy proposals and his rhetorical style, joking to the Times this weekend that she would consider moving to New Zealand if Trump won the presidency. “He has no consistency about him,” Ginsburg said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday. “He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego.”
In this election cycle in particular, the potential of a new president to affect the balance of the court has taken on great importance, with the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. As Justice Ginsburg pointed out, other justices are nearing an age when retirement would not be surprising. That makes it vital that the court remain outside the presidential process. And just imagine if this were 2000 and the resolution of the election depended on a Supreme Court decision. Could anyone now argue with a straight face that Justice Ginsburg’s only guide would be the law?
This of course only raises the question of whether it is apolitical impartiality or simply the appearance of apolitical impartiality that is valued. What about the optics, Justice Ginsburg??