Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Supreme Court Justice on the Loose

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg traveled to Egypt last month, on a trip sponsored by the State Department. Meeting with counterparts now trying to write Egypt's new constitution, she advised:
I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a Constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the Constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. . . It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the U.S. Constitution.
Or, as the New York Times reports it: "'We the People' Loses Appeal With People Around the World.'"


1) Justice Ginsburg took an oath upon assuming her office promising to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States." (She actually took two oaths, of which that is one.) Meaning, as the Rockland County Times (N.Y.) opined, "Justice Ginsburg failed to respect the authority of the document that it is her duty to protect." I'm no lawyer but. . . oh, wait I am. I think there's some remedy for violating oaths in Art. I, Sec. 3, cl. 6.

2) Personally, I remain a fan of the U.S. Constitution. And I prefer it to South Africa's probably for the reasons Ginsburg doesn't: South Africa's Constitution guarantees all workers the right to strike (Sec. 23), all people an environment not harmful to their health (Sec. 24), the right to housing (Sec. 26) and the right to health care and social security (Sec. 27). Such "positive rights" schemes don't work in practice, because they demand "a concomitant duty on the part of someone to fulfill that aspiration." South Africa's Constitution doesn't say who pays for those rights, nor how they could be delivered.

And what is it with Supreme Court Justice's trysts with foreign law?

3) Why is a Supreme Court justice on an Executive branch-sponsored tour? I thought Justice Ginsburg was a fierce defender of judicial independence? See Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Judicial Independence: The Situation of the U.S. Federal Judiciary, 85 Neb. L. Rev. 1 (2011). Separation of powers but not of junkets? Qui custodiet ipsos custodes?

(via reader Warren)


OBloodyHell said...

She certainly puts the "ass" in "The law is a ..."

Bob in LA said...

Impeach Justice Ginsburg. Next year.

MaxedOutMama said...

Every time I read this I get MADDER.

Because I believe law is terribly important, I truly hate constitutions that attempt to define rights to things that an individual cannot get by themselves.

The older I get, the more I understand why the Ten Really Good Suggestions are "shalt nots".