Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court was the most contentious nomination process in decades, and it provoked fierce, lengthy debates across the United States. However, there was one group of people expected to keep quiet about it, and that would be the justices already sitting on the bench. For the most part, they did keep their opinions to themselves, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg's face during Kavanaugh's swearing-in ceremony did leave many onlookers attempting to decode what, exactly, she was thinking.
Sitting between other members of the Supreme Court, Ginsburg appeared to slightly glower during the ceremony, including during Kavanaugh's speech. People on Twitter were quick to attempt interpreting her expression.
Many said that the Supreme Court justice reflected how women were feeling in light of Kavanaugh's successful nomination. "RBG is every democratic women in America right now," wrote writer Molly Jong Fast.
Some even suggested that they almost felt bad for the justice. "Poor RBG having deal with this belligerent misogynist," wrote organizer Amy Siskind.
Though it's not clear whether Ginsburg intended to send any specific message with her expression during Kavanaugh's swearing-in ceremony, the people of Twitter seemed eager to find a conduit for their own thoughts and emotions. "RBG's expression at Kavanaugh's swearing in says it all," wrote one user.
Indeed, screen shots and photographs of her posture while attending the ceremony rapidly circulated across social media. "The disgust on RBG’s face is me," wrote lawyer Aditi Juneja.
The reason that many women, in particular, were frustrated with Kavanaugh's confirmation was rooted firmly in how people in power reacted to three sexual assault allegations made against him during his nomination, all of which he denied. Speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, Kavanaugh said, "I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. Not in high school, not in college, not ever. Sexual assault is horrific."
Many critics, mostly Democrats, insisted that the allegations warranted an in-depth FBI investigation. Though a supplemental background check intended to investigate the charges against him did take place at the last moment, a multitude of Kavanaugh opponents insisted that a week was not long enough to thoroughly examine evidence and conduct interviews with persons of interest. But even in the face of wide Democratic opposition, most senators ultimately voted along party lines, smoothly confirming Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Chances are that, as long as she serves on the bench, Ginsburg will not reveal any personal opinion on Kavanaugh. While other branches of the government frequently attack each other in the press or on social media, Supreme Court justices are expected to occupy a sphere that is above and separate from politics. (That is a key reason why they serve on the court for life.) If the justices were to publicly criticize each other, it would be more likely to come by way of their written opinions.
Whether or not Ginsburg was uncomfortable or unhappy at Kavanaugh's swearing-in ceremony, her disposition did seem to function as a small catharsis for those who didn't think that he should have been confirmed. And, if Ginsburg's intent to serve until she is 90 years old is any indication, she's not going anywhere any time soon.