Earlier this week, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg violated the code of conduct for federal judges when she trashed Donald Trump.
The code states federal judges should not “publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office.” Although Supreme Court justices are not bound by the code, Chief Justice John G. Roberts has said the court adheres to it.
Donald Trump responded to Ginsberg’s unethical comments by sending out one of his scathing tweets. He questioned her mental fitness and demanded she resign.
Justice Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot – resign!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 13, 2016
“I don’t think the justices should be speaking out about presidential politics,” Gabe Roth, executive director of Fix the Court, a nonpartisan organization advocating for accountability from the justices, told the Boston Herald. “It’s part of the job of being a Supreme Court judge to be held to a high ethical standard.”
If November’s election ends up in litigation, as did the contested 2000 election when the court ruled (Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board) in favor of George W. Bush over Al Gore, Ginsberg would be expected to recuse herself, as stipulated in the federal recusal statute.
“Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” the code states.
Ginsberg demonstrated her lack of impartiality in 2014 when she made negative comments about Texas imposing restrictions on abortion at a time when a challenge to the law was before the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The case made it to the Supreme Court and Ginsberg ruled with the majority to strike down the law.
Ginsberg’s remarks reveal the desperation of the establishment as it confronts the possibility of a Trump presidency and the appointments he will make to the Court.
In March, Hillary Clinton warned about the consequences of a Trump victory. “What kind of justice would a President Trump appoint, or for that matter what kind of attorney general?” she asked. “Once you make the extreme normal, you open the door to even worse.”
According to Patrick J. Buchanan, the composition of the Supreme Court is a question that should be left to the American people.
“What kind of Supreme Court do the American people wish to have? That is a question to be decided in 2016—not by a lame-duck president, but by the American electorate in November,” Buchanan wrote in February.
“Does the nation want an activist judiciary to remake America into a more liberal society, as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor would like to see it remade?
“Or do the American people want a more constitutional court that returns power to the people and their elected representatives?”