Monday, January 09, 2006

The Ginsburg Precedent

Watching the Alito hearings today, I couldn't help but notice that the Democrats kept invoking the standard of Sandra Day O'Connor as their model justice, while Republicans kept invoking the standard of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as their model nominee.

Except, as the Carpetbagger Report notes, their picture -- one of Ginsburg as an ideological nominee who refused to answer questions on controversial social issues like abortion that might come before the Court -- is completely wrong:
First, there's the context of the selection. Clinton had a Democratic Senate at the time and could have picked anyone he wanted. Clinton, however, asked Orrin Hatch, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, for some suggested nominees. (It would be like Bush asking Pat Leahy for a suggested nominee now. Try to control your laughter.)

Hatch said Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a solid, confirmable choice. Clinton agreed, Ginsburg was nominated, and she cruised through the process. If Republicans are so livid about Ginsburg's ideology, they should take it up with Hatch.

As for answering questions about judicial issues, the truth is Ginsburg sidestepped questions about specific cases, but she didn't hesitate to state her positions on key issues, including abortion. As Ginsburg told the Judiciary Committee at the time:

"[The right to an abortion] is something central to a woman's life, to her dignity. It's a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she's being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices."

For that matter, it was Hatch himself who praised Ginsburg for being so cooperative in answering questions, telling Ginsburg she had been "very specific in talking about abortion, equal rights, and a number of other issues."

If Alito is going to be held to a real "Ginsburg standard," he'll have quite a few questions to answer. I'm not optimistic, but the least the Republicans could do is stop re-writing history.
Well said.


Thrillhous said...

Carpetbagger has become one of my go-to blogs in recent months. I check it right after I check the plumper blogs.

Otto Man said...

I generally check out the Teabagger Report first.

S.W. Anderson said...

Meanwhile, at Oh!pinion, we've got a nice selection of reasoned commentaries and rants, usually fresh daily, with free parking, no long lines, no donation blurbs.

Starting to feel like Rodney Dangerfield.