Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was right to apologize for her harsh public comments against Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
As an individual in such a high seat of power, Ginsburg was out of line when she told The New York Times that she and her late husband would have strong inclinations to move to New Zealand if Trump takes over the presidency. Ginsburg only made matters worse by telling CNN news reporters during a follow-up interview that Trump is a “faker.”
Ginsburg is a liberal Supreme Court Justice, originally appointed by Bill Clinton in the early '90s. Therefore, one can reasonably assume that she would express support for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and distaste for Trump.
As a judge, however, Ginsburg has a duty to her seat on the Supreme Court to keep her comments about Trump to herself -- or, at the very least, keep them out of the realm of bullying.
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What Ginsburg seems to have forgotten is the fact that Trump actually has a shot at winning this election. Should Trump win the vote in November, Ginsburg will remain a part of a judicial branch closely connected to a man whom she has bashed openly.
Trump has promised that his future with Ginsburg will prove more than awkward. On July 13, he tweeted, “If I win the Presidency, we will swamp Justice Ginsburg with real judges and real legal opinions!”
While Ginsburg might not receive forgiveness from Trump, her apology was still necessary. She needed to express to the American public that she “regrets,” as she said, her comments.
Ginsburg herself explained, “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office.”
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The Supreme Court plays an important role in the political process. The founding fathers established the three branches of government to balance each other and counter the possibility of one person or group gaining too much power. The system suffers when individuals’ egos and personal opinions disrupt the flow of the process.
Engaging in arguments with a candidate before he becomes president hardly seems worth the trouble.
The consequences of Ginsburg’s comments against Trump are much stronger than comments made by Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or even President Barack Obama.
Clinton has the right to critique Trump harshly because she is his political opponent. Like any presidential candidate of recent times, including Trump, she must point out her opponent’s negatives to convince voters that she is deserving of the presidency. The democratic candidate wants to win and so does Trump; that is just the way the game of politics works.
Sanders and Obama have offered official endorsements of Clinton. They help her campaign on a daily basis. They can criticize Trump, too, because he has certainly criticized them.
Furthermore, Clinton, Sanders, and Obama have more freedom when criticizing Trump because they will never have to share the office, agree on policies, or converse on a regular basis after the 2016 election.
Ginsburg may not have that luxury.
Before making comments against Trump, she was not in his direct firing line. She cannot offer retaliation as an excuse for her behavior because, technically, she started it.
Whether Trump will accept her apology or not is irrelevant. In order to maintain a sense of political responsibility and human decency, however, Ginsburg must remain firm in her decision to apologize for her remarks.