Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has come to her senses. She said Thursday that she regrets her inflammatory critique of Donald Trump and her controversial remarks about Supreme Court business.
Widely viewed as inappropriate, Ginsberg's comments were an unprecedented breach of an unwritten code of SCOTUS conduct; the court is meant to be apolitical and its rulings untarnished by partisan leanings. That's the way it is meant to be; unhappily it has become all too clear in recent years, as justices especially on the left predictably vote as a block, that the court is highly politicized. Ginsburg's interviews reflected that she, at least, is anything but neutral, confirming what most suspected.
The firestorm over Ginsburg's behavior could prove a blessing to presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. Many Republicans have been searching for a reason to vote for a candidate they view as erratic or insufficiently conservative. Ginsburg has just delivered the most convincing rationale of all by reminding voters of the importance of who is appointed to the court.
Ginsberg is 83 years old and presumed to be on the cusp of retirement. (And especially after her recent outbursts which some have attributed to her having one foot out the door.) That will leave two empty spots on the bench, given the death earlier this year of Justice Antonin Scalia. Filling those seats and perhaps also replacing Anthony Kennedy, who is nearly 80, Stephen Breyer 77, and possibly Clarence Thomas who is almost 68, will likely be the most important task confronting the next occupant of the Oval Office. Replacements for those justices will determine the philosophical leanings of the bench. If Hillary Clinton becomes president the country could be under the jurisdiction of a progressive activist court for decades, forever changing the course of the nation.
Under President Obama a balanced court has proved essential to reining in the alarming overreach of the executive branch. Obama's executive actions on immigration and extra-legal environmental regulations have been stymied only through the court. Numerous lower-profile but also important abuses like Obama's illegal "recess" appointments to the National Labor Relations Board have also been thwarted by the court. Imagine if Hillary's picks had been in charge.
Clinton believes the federal government should expand its already formidable reach. She sees Big Government as the appropriate agent to set wages and benefits policies and to mandate how state educational institutions operate. As president she has promised to pick winners and losers in our energy industries, denying the country the benefit of our plentiful natural resources. She wants federal intervention in local law enforcement and in labor disputes. She also advocates broader gun control.
The Supremes will confront many important decisions going forward. Issues about states' rights, freedom of religion and freedom of speech, defense of the second amendment guaranteeing the right to bear arms and protection of civil rights will forever be contested in the court of law.
Our country may get to elect a president but it is the Supreme Court that in many ways determines our future.
If Republicans want to see our most critical rights and privileges protected, they have to vote for Donald Trump. Justice Ginsburg has made that clear.