In a reflective interview on Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she doesn't call herself a liberal. Ginsburg made the statement while discussing the Supreme Court's previous term with Duke Law professor Neil Siegel — and many people consider the Court to have been actually rather liberal in its rulings this time around. According to The Huffington Post, Ginsburg disagreed with the classification of the court or herself as liberal entities, which is a little surprising, given her extremely liberal track record.
But maybe Ginsburg just isn't into labels. As an advocate for women's issues, she undoubtedly understands that labels can be narrow and constricting, and that many people exist outside of classifications. And though the justice is a champion for civil rights and equality, her voting record shows that she's not confined by her Democratic roots. She has voted conservatively at least twice on business related court cases, and she's quick to defend some of the conservative justices.
But during the same interview on Wednesday, which included reflections on the previous term's court cases, Ginsburg's liberal ideologies came shining through a bit. In between answering why she didn't write an opinion for the marriage equality case (she thought it was better to have a unified front) and discussing the death penalty, Ginsburg offered up these quotes that proved why she's heralded as a liberal queen, regardless of what she calls herself.
On Reproductive Rights
Reproductive freedom is in a sorry situation in the United States. Poor women don’t have choice.
On Upholding The ACA
In the health care case, Congress obviously wanted people to be able to have health insurance in the way that people who sign up for federal exchanges. There’s no point in having a federal exchange other than for them to work with subsidies. ... I think you would agree with me that no, there’s no sensible way of reading the statute other than the way, there’s no other way it made sense at all.
On Citizens United
During the interview, Ginsburg cited the court's 2010 decision in Citizens United vs. FEC as its biggest mistake. The court ruled in favor of allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts on money during elections. Ginsburg called it a blunder because of "what has happened to elections in the United States and the huge amount of money it takes to run for office." Ginsburg dissented from the Citizens United decision.
On The Death Penalty
Recently, Ginsburg has been setting her eyes on a major political battle, as she calls into question whether the death penalty is constitutional.
One thing is the mistakes that are possible in this system. The other is the quality of representation. ... Yes there was racial disparity but even more geographical disparity. ... So the idea that luck of the draw, if you happened to commit a crime in one county in Louisiana, the chances that you would get the death penalty are very high. On the other hand, if you commit the same deed in Minnesota, the chances that you would get the death penalty are almost nil.
On Congressional Redistricting
This term the Supreme Court ruled on Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting, which focused on the issue of gerrymandering, or redrawing voting districts in order to favor certain parties. Ginsburg struck down a redistricting plan drawn by Republicans that would favor their party, and also upheld Arizona's use of an independent commission that draws districts and allows citizens to chime in via ballot or referendums. Politicians did not appreciate this, because it cut them out of the process. Ginsburg advocated looking beyond the black and white of the issue, and assessing how the Founding Fathers would want to ensure the voice of the people.
What were the Founding Fathers thinking about? They were thinking about who had a legislative function. ... I think it was entirely reasonable to read the Constitution to accommodate whatever means of lawmaking the state had adopted ... What we had in mind is who makes the law for the state. Otherwise you’d freeze things as they existed, it would allow no room for affirmative development, no room for the voice of the people, which is what the initiative did.
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