Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg points the finger at an increasingly partisan Congress for polarizing the judicial confirmation process.
Speaking at the federal courthouse in Washington on Wednesday, Ginsburg said a lack of collegiality and bipartisanship among lawmakers was to blame for polarizing the confirmation process for federal judges, The Washington Post reported.
Ginsburg alluded to the heated confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, without mentioning the high court’s newest justice by name.
She reflected on past Supreme Court confirmation processes and pointed to Justice Antonin Scalia’s unanimous confirmation vote in the Senate, as well as the 96-3 vote for her, the Post reported.
“What a difference in time that was from what we are witnessing today,” Ginsburg said in an apparent reference to the bitter confirmation battle over Kavanaugh and the resulting 50-48 vote to confirm him. Only one Democrat voted for Kavanaugh.
“To me, the obvious culprit is Congress,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg praised Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who retired in 2005, as a model of someone who put “country above party and self-interest” and who “worked collaboratively to solve problems,” the Post reported.
Ginsburg’s comments came a day after O’Connor, the first female justice to serve on the Supreme Court, announced her withdrawal from public life in light of a recent diagnosis of dementia.
Ginsburg was interviewed by D.C. Circuit Judge David Tatel, who replaced her on that appeals court. She served there for more than a dozen years, before President Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court in 1993.
Among more than 20 federal judges in the audience, the Post reported, was D.C. Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Barack Obama after Scalia’s death in February 2016.
The Republican-controlled Senate declined to hold hearings on Garland, saying the president elected the following November should choose Scalia’s successor. President Donald Trump chose 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed 54-45.
Ginsburg’s exercise routine helps her keep up a busy schedule, which included trips this past summer to Italy and Israel.