On Thursday, the Supreme Court released a statement from Ruth Bader Ginsburg regarding her comments on Donald Trump. "On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them,” the press statement read. She added: "Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect."
In an interview with The New York Times published this week, Ginsburg openly criticized the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, saying, "I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president" and joked that the prospect of his presidency reminded her of something her late husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, proposed. (“‘Now it’s time for us to move to New Zealand.") She also told CNN that Trump was a "faker" and "has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego."
Her comments sparked a wave of backlash from a number of Republicans and, unsurprisingly, Trump himself. Among the many critiques he tweeted, Trump wrote of Ginsburg: "Her mind is shot - resign!" However, it wasn't only those within the GOP who were irked by the comment. The New York Times' editorial board published an op-ed Wednesday titled, "Donald Trump Is Right About Ruth Bader Ginsburg." It opened with the line:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg needs to drop the political punditry and the name-calling.
It's understandable that Ginsburg's statements raised eyebrows, regardless of one's political affiliation. Supreme Court judges are supposed to hold a special role in our government as nonpartisan figures who can interpret and assess the constitutionality of our laws in the most objective manner possible. Obviously, they have their own political views — and it's often a little too clear what their own biases are and how they affect them. Heck, justices are nominated by presidents with the hope they will vote on cases in a way that supports their policies and views. Still, traditionally, justices are expected to refrain from blatant political commentary in such a public forum. Weighing in on elections only tarnishes the impression of impartiality that is so critical to their rulings being accepted by all Americans.
But ultimately, Ginsburg only validated why she is considered one of the most intelligent, revered, and beloved figures in Washington, D.C. She apologized. She recognized her error, admitted it, and made amends. It's what smart, mature people do — and it's something we've largely failed to see from Trump in this campaign. Reading Ginsburg's statement reminds one of what Trump lacks. It validates those concerns about his temperament, his decision-making skills, and his foresight.
Watching an articulate and esteemed person admit a mistake shouldn't — and generally doesn't — lessen one's opinion of them. It's only further evidence of their brilliance and self-reflection. Trump may still keep calling for Ginsburg to resign, but now he should be looking to her as a role model.