4 Ruth Bader Ginsburg Positions You Might Just Find Yourself Disagreeing With
Ever feel like you've found your soul mate? OK, maybe you don't believe in that stuff, or maybe you haven't been lucky enough to find someone you're simpatico with. But every now and then, you might run into a political soul mate, some high-profile personal hero that you always find yourself cheering on. For the last several years, in fact, liberals all over America have had that in Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But nobody ever lines up perfectly on everything, right? To prove just that, here are four times you might just disagree with Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
It's not as though the 82-year-old liberal icon has given us many reasons to gnash our teeth. Quite the opposite, for the most part — whether you're talking social issues, corporate rights, religious freedom exemptions, you name it, RBG has shown a remarkable ability to tap into the most eloquent, informed sort of liberal rationale.
But it's important not to gloss over some areas of dispute, however polite and nuanced they may be. Disagreement, after all, is a healthy, necessary, and (more to the point) unavoidable fact of life and politics. In that spirit, a quartet of such disagreements is presented below. Just keep in mind: when the chips are down, RBG has your back.
Her Criticism Of Roe v. Wade
When it comes to abortion rights, Ginsburg is a stalwart. She's consistently sided in favor of expanded abortion rights throughout her career, and she speaks about it at length and with great moral force. But she does have a curious opinion about the case that enshrined the abortion rights of American women, Roe v. Wade — she believes it was a flawed ruling, as detailed by the AP, one which enables opponents to launch attacks with ease.
That was my concern, that the court had given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly. ... My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum that was on the side of change.
This isn't a disagreement about judicial philosophy, really, as Ginsburg's analysis could well be argued to be correct. But it does rely on the notion that the American anti-abortion movement is animated in part by the sweeping scale of Roe, and that smaller, incremental steps would've been met with less resistance.
Given the tenor of many of America's most religion-fueled abortion opponents, however — casting the termination of a fetus (or in some cases even the use of contraceptives) as an act of murder, and a sin in the eyes of God — it's easy to imagine that not holding true. It is, simply put, not a very flexible position. And obviously, an incremental approach would've logically kept things worse for women who needed abortions, and for longer, than how Roe played out.
That Whole "Not Retiring" Thing
This is a complicated topic that tends to whip up a lot of fervor on the left, and for entirely understandable reasons. On the one hand, you have policy-driven, pragmatist left-wingers who think, "Hey, we should really try to get Obama another Supreme Court nomination before he takes off."
On the other hand, you have the court-watchers who adore her, who rightly point out that you probably couldn't get another Ginsburg-style liberal through Senate confirmation now, and who might bristle at perceived ageist and sexist facets to the questioning. Ginsburg herself made it clear she doesn't intend to retire by anyone's schedule but her own in a 2014 interview with Elle magazine:
Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have? If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court.
Since she made these remarks, the GOP has sezied control of the Senate majority, so now it's more true than ever, and a Ginsburg retirement right now wouldn't help anything.
But all the same, and as much as I love having her on the bench, it's hard not to be sympathetic to the "Ginsburg should've gone" crowd — when issues of law and order that matter so much to so many and people's lives are on the line, it's only natural to feel like that's the most important thing.
Saying There's "No Need To Rush" On Same-Sex Marriage
This one's pretty simple, and again, not exactly a dispute on principle — Ginsburg has made it pretty plain how she views same-sex marriage already, and when the Supreme Court's pending ruling on state-level bans finally comes down, it's all but a given that she'll be coming down on the marriage equality side.
But there is one thing that gets frustrating in conversations like this: the idea that there's no harm in slow-walking the process. Ginsburg offered this very sort of sentiment up back in Sept. 2014, as detailed by The Advocate, saying that there was "no need for us to rush" on taking another, potentially nationallly precedent-setting same-sex marriage case.
Which makes a huge amount of sense, given the marriag equality tidal wave that's been gradually washing over the U.S. regardless. But it always bears consideration that some people don't have as much time to wait — whether from old age, illness, or the unavoidable complications of life, there are countless same-sex couples right now who might not every get to be married if things take too long. Obviously Ginsburg seems to want that too, but it's always worth mentioning — whether or not it's possible or prudent to "rush" on marriage equality, there's always a pretty good reason to.
Saying America's "About As Conservative As It Will Get" On Abortion
This is probably the biggest of the four disagreements, and one with huge stakes involved — is America at the high-water mark of conservative prohibitions on abortion rights, or are things just getting started? Ginsburg, in that aforementioned Elle interview, gives voice to the former theory, saying she believes that it's just about as bad now as it'll get, and laying some blame at the feet of her colleague, Justice Anthony Kennedy.
To be frank, it's one person who made the difference: Justice [Anthony] Kennedy. He was a member of the triumvirate used to [reaffirm] Roe v. Wade in the Casey case, but since then, his decisions have been on upholding restrictions on access to abortion. ... I think it's gotten about as conservative as it will get.
Once again, it's obviously the case that Ginsburg has a unique angle on this issue that may inform her view better than a layman. But right now, with the war over repoductive health raging across GOP led states, abortion clinics being shuttered by so-called Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws, and conditions getting worse and worse for the poorest and least privileged women in the country, it can be hard to find this same optimism.
Much less now that the Republican Party has complete control of Congress — the House is planning to vote on a national 20-week abortion ban very soon, and even though President Obama would veto it, he won't be around forever.
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