There was a time when Supreme Court justices at least pretended to be apolitical, but apparently that practice went out the window when one party nominated a reality-TV star with an incoherent-yet-scary agenda. In an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the next president “she,” and said of a potential Donald Trump win, “I don’t want to think about that possibility.” Just in case that was too subtle, on Sunday she joked in a New York Times interview that she’s fleeing the country if Trump wins — though, unlike many fellow liberals, she’s considering Hobbit country, not Canada.
“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
She recalled a line her late husband, Martin Ginsburg, used to say. “‘Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand,’” she said, smiling “ruefully.”
To be clear, Justice Ginsburg isn’t actually planning to leave the country, particularly because that would give President Trump another seat to fill. Ginsburg, who is 83, said she intends to continue doing her job “as long as I can do it full steam,” but when asked about the stakes in the presidential election she noted that her colleagues Justices Anthony Kennedy and Stephen Breyer may not be on the bench for long. “Kennedy is about to turn 80,” she said. “Breyer is going to turn 78.”
Ginsburg is actually highlighting a point that Trump keeps stressing. In arguably his smartest political move, Trump released a list of his 11 potential Supreme Court nominees in May. That reassured Republicans that he’d attempt to put a judge with solid conservative credentials on the bench, rather than trying to make Justice Sarah Palin happen.
During his otherwise disastrous trip to Congress last week, Trump vowed to GOP lawmakers that he would stick to that list if elected. Representative Mark Sanford told McClatchy that while he finds it “dangerous and alarming” that Trump is “fairly casual with facts” and talks about wanting to punch protesters in the face, fellow Republicans may be willing to overlook that if it means nominating three conservative justices. “If you care about the composition of the court, that alone will push you there,” he said.