Justice Ginsberg Has Reached Her “What The Hell” Stage, But That Doesn’t Mean It Can Extend To Ethics


Justice Ginsberg has been speaking out lately in intemperate fashion, first about Donald Trump, then about Colin Kaepernick. In both cases she received immediate criticism and issued apologies. It’s clear, however, that the liberal feminist icon, now 84 and in ill health, has reached the point in life where she feels she doesn’t need to be especially vigilant about what she says, a bit like Estelle Getty’s character Sophia on “The Golden Girls.” After all, what can anyone do to her?

Now that would normally be the time where ethics are paramount: ethics are what you do when you know you can get away with it (among other handy definitions). Ginsberg is a member of the one court that has no official Code of Judicial Ethics,  but since it is the highest court in the land, its judges are obligated to be exemplars, not rebels.

But what the hell. Justice Ginsberg affects ornate jabots when she is on the bench: they spruce up the unisex black judicial robes. In 2014, she revealed that some of them have special significance. She wears one Jabot, for example, when she is part of a majority which is about to deliver its opinion. She wears another when she is dissenting from the majority opinion. (That’s it above.)

Wednesday morning, following the election of Donald Trump, an event that she had earlier told an interviewer would cause her to move to New Zealand, Ginsburg sported the “dissent jabot” on the bench, though no opinions were being read. Reporters quickly picked up on the code, and took the choice as an expression of opposition to Trump’s election, which it almost certainly was. She has not disabused anyone of the assumption.
Cute, clever, unprovable, and unethical. It would have been a clear breach of decorum, independence and judicial dignity for Ginsberg to wear a Hillary button on her robes, or to sport any political statement. Judges typically oppose lawyers, clients and witnesses from bringing politics into court. For a judge to do it is asking for an official reprimand. For a Supreme Court Justice to do it, it doesn’t matter what the message is, shows a lack of respect for her own profession, as well as a lack of self-control.

The gesture is also unprofessional and a breach of the duty of all high government officials to publicly show respect and support for each other. For Ginsberg to “shout out” her dissent to a Presidential election (it doesn’t matter if it is code or not) in such a prominent public forum intentionally endorses divisiveness, at a time when divisiveness is a real threat to national stability.Naturally, her feminist, progressive and Democratic fans cheer this defiance, because they don’t know judicial ethics from corn flakes. Heck, after defending Hillary Clinton for so long, they don’t know any ethics from corn flakes. Justice Ginsberg knows, however. She just doesn’t care any more.

Ah, what the hell?

63 thoughts on “Justice Ginsberg Has Reached Her “What The Hell” Stage, But That Doesn’t Mean It Can Extend To Ethics

  1. I’m actually getting pretty close, myself. Seventy-one ain’t no spring chicken, and several times I have found myself thinking after reading one of your replies “I could and should have thought of that.” Most times it is after you have pointed out that I have said something dumb, for which I thank you.

    • dragin_dragon,
      My 86 year old Dad would say you’re a spring chicken. 😉

      Everyone has those after-the-fact moments of coulda, shoulda, woulda; we learn from those moments and keep putting one foot in front of the other to move forward.

      • That’s pretty much what I’m doing, just more slowly than 50 years ago. Thanks for the kind words, though, and felicitations to your Dad. Hope I get there.

  2. This simply confirms what the we the deplorables have known and acted upon.
    Progressive Dogma:
    Progressives do not live in the same world the underclass occupy. They are a Puritan sect. Anything that falls out of their brains is by definition a pearl of wisdom. Any dissent is relentlessly crushed for they cannot allow heresy. It’s dangerous to allow the deplorables to expect to be treated with respect. They might get uppity.

  3. Jack,

    A line of reasoning with which I don’t expect you to agree:

    Trump is one of the most unethical (if not THE) president-elects we’ve ever had. He’s an intemperate asshole who responds to rational attacks with name-calling, pettiness, and fear-mongering. He hasn’t played by the rules, even when others have. He’s like a petulant child who whined about not being allowed up after bedtime and was rewarded with keys to the house. He’s vandalized our collective history (he’ll have a portrait just like Washington and Jefferson someday soon). He’s likely to forever damage what’s left of our reputation amongst the rest of the world. He has no leadership, no morals, and no idea how to run a country.

    How do you ethically combat someone like that? It’s a nice theory that ethical behavior will ultimately win out over the unethical behind, given enough people with the virtue to stand their ground, but it’s also a fiction. Whether or not there’s a higher being who punishes injustice in the world to come, we’re on our own on this end. In any other case I would agree with your assessment, but Donald Trump is the exception to everything.

    He may be the president and that title may deserve respect, but I refuse to afford him a single drop of mine. Why should anyone accord him respect when he refuses to give it back?


    • “How do you ethically combat someone like that?”

      You don’t. Donald Trump is the key figure in one of three branches of government, in a country that is presumably not ruled by government, but by laws, and by it’s individual people’s collective actions and character. He’s not a king, dictator, or invading alien monster. You don’t have to personally vanquish him. You’ll be okay.

      • Actually, apparently I won’t.


        Blackwell, according to a document obtained by Politico, is in charge of the Trump “action team” examining the departments of energy, environmental protection, labor, transportation, health and human services, housing and urban development, interior and agriculture.

        He has in the past supported legislation voiding all contracts – not just marriage contracts – involving LGBT people. He believes they should not be allowed to engage in them. No wills, employment contracts, property contracts… We’re into extremist territory here. Now while there are still legal safeguards, he’s in charge of picking the people who will enforce those safeguards. It is exactly like putting someone from the KKK in.

        Not as egregious as putting Westboro Baptists in the SCOTUS, but I had to reach that far to get something worse. Worse than worst case predictions.

        • Zoe
          How do you link Trump with the FRC and Tony Perkins. I dont necessarily agree with their LGBT positions because I do not believe you can use one religions scripture to justify legislation. There are positions I can support regarding parental rights. My point is that the link does not ascribe Trump policy with the FRC position. If It appears your fears are well founded by his future acts I will stand with you. I think however that Trump is not an anti-LGBT ideologue

          • http://www.hrc.org/blog/reports-of-anti-lgbtq-extremists-tapped-for-major-roles-on-president-elect

            Pence is appointing genuine extremists. The name “Ed Meese” ring a bell?

            Trump is clueless about LGBT issues. He neither knows or cares. They’re not important to him, he leaves that to others. All aspects of domestic and international policy he’s leaving to Pence *as he said he would* while he works on Making America Great Again.

            The Heritage Foundation is vetting all prospective appointments. Including those to the SCOTUS and all Federal judgeships, to make sure they are politically reliable. No appointment will be made without being approved by them – and the FRC.

            The old rules about bipartisanship, quid pro quo, don’t appear to be too extreme one way or the other – obsolete. A New Order.

                • An idiot given such power is by his very nature dangerous, no? Think about what you just said. Think about the power he has now. “… in charge of the Trump “action team” examining the departments of energy, environmental protection, labor, transportation, health and human services, housing and urban development, interior and agriculture.”

                  Apart from generalities and argument by incredulity, argument by assertion… Though in a comment it’s not feasible for either of us to give hard evidence in great detail, I’ll take it as read if you adduce just a scrap – what do you have?

                  Idiot – not really, he has some abilities as a mayor, and was extremely creative with his vote suppression tactics. But yes really with his “GLBT are not mentally competent to enter into contracts” schtick, even though he believes it from all accounts.

                  Now put such a man, holding such beliefs, in charge of deciding the list of candidates for labor, health, and housing. Sarah Palin is apparently a shoe in for the Secretary of the Interior, so leave that aside.

                  Not the worst choice that could have been made… It feels bizarre to say that. In normal times… But times are anything but normal, and there are far worse who will be put in other positions.

                • Van Jones was just one of many. He didn’t call the shots as to which Federal Judge candidates were suitable to be placed on the list.

                  I’m sure you’ll find no such variety of views being permitted under this administration. The old idea of bipartisanship, quid pro quo, is obsolete. That may hurt the GOP long term, but so what? The GOP establishment isn’t exactly Trump’s ally. Since the FRC gained the whiphand on the RNC policymaking late last year, the GOP establishment is out of sync with the RNC for that matter.

                  I know it has been traditional in the past to insert outrageous provisions in various GOP (and DNC) policy platforms, which are then ignored as just a sop to the extremists.

                  That’s changed. That was business as usual.

                  • Now THIS is just wrong on the facts. Rudy, Christie and Newt, for example, are all iconoclasts, and all over the place ideologically, and none of them are really on point with Trump. Who knows what he thinks or how he reached decisions? All four are unusually talented at pissing people off for the sheer fun of it. I wouldn’t call that an ideology, though.

            • Really, though, so what? Is the Heritage Foundation less reasonable or ideological than the ABA? Ed Meese, who has to be senile, was the Attorney General for a while, and the Rockies didn’t fall. These are establishment retreads, that’s all. If Trump has any brains he’ll keep Pence from eroding the support of people he needs.

              • Heritage Foundation – can’t say. Somewhat anti immigrant, as supposedly they have said that immigrants, like blacks, have lower IQs… A bit careless with facts sometimes. No worse than the ABA? That’s a stretch, but not a huge one. Mostly harmless. However, I’m no expert on them. They appear to be economically rather than socially ultra conservstive, and maybe not even that ultra.

                The FRC? That’s KKK territory, the PJI worse. Those I know about.

                The KKK is an apt comparison – their literature for public consumption no longer calls for blacks to be lynched, in fact they *huh hem* abhor violence. Similarly, the FRC disavowed several years ago the death penalty for being homosexual, and I really think they mean it. GLBTIs as all other dangerously mentally ill patients, should instead be forced into treatment for their own good. Not by librul psychiatrists, as for other dangerous mentally ill people, but by approved Christian Counsellors, using aversion therapy and CSS.

                Of course they finance adverts calling them perverts and pedophiles, as in NC recently, but don’t encourage violence towards them, only self defence.

                Like the KKK. There’s some overlap in Colorado.

        • Blackwell’s selection to lead Trump’s transition team is actually something that makes me hopeful about Trump. Blackwell is experienced in politics, but also known for integrity, and exactly the opposite of the cronyism that’s dominated the executive branch lately. Instead of quaking in your boots about stormtroopers coming to take your rights away, you can read his essay on the rule of law. Here’s a sample:

          “Rule of law, as traditionally understood, is now being threatened. If Americans wish to see a return to prosperity, we must demand public policy that upholds the rule of law when it comes to property and business and hold elected officials accountable not only to deliver such policy but also to submit to the rule of law as well.
          We are a nation of laws, not of men. We do not have one set of laws for the people and another for the elites. In the United States, every person, including the President, is required to obey the law. The U.S. Supreme Court building has the words “Equal Justice Under Law” carved into its massive façade. These words remind us of the truth that whether you are rich or poor, man or woman, young or old, in America we all live equally under the protection of our laws.”

          The whole thing is here: http://thf_media.s3.amazonaws.com/2010/pdf/Ind.Ch2.Blackwell.pdf

          Unlike Obama, Trump doesn’t owe 1000 unsavory people all sorts of back-alley favors for electing him, so maybe, just maybe, we’ll get some actual swamp-draining out of this.

    • This, Neil:

      How do you ethically combat someone like that?

      … snipped for brevity…

      In any other case I would agree with your assessment, but Donald Trump is the exception to everything.

      … is unethical rationalization #11(a), a sub-rationalization of The King’s Pass. I’d also say it runs afoul of #28, The Revolutionary’s Excuse. Additionally, it is a logical fallacy of the form of a Special Pleading.

      Your justification for this is that Trump’s unethical behavior is so bad that it warrants unethical behavior in return. That is both insufficient and mistaken. Trump’s behavior doesn’t demand an equally bad response, and such responses do much more violence to the reputation of the person delivering them than the object of their ire.

      The proper way to respond to someone like Trump is exemplary ethics, not deplorable ones (pun intended). This is a case where leading by example is not only the best choice, it’s the only one that makes sense.

      Finally, concerning “respect,” I don’t blame you for not wanting to give it to Trump the man. I have very little for him myself. However, as the person in the office of the President of the United States, he deserves our respect (as the official, not as the man) in spite of his personal loathsomeness.

      Whether you can find it in yourself to internalize that dichotomy is up to you, really.

        • Probably true. But not particularly helpful.
          I hope that the better angels in all of us will prevail for at least a little while.

          • Oakland is merely reprising its BLM performances from a few years back with a new, nearly all libly-white cast, rehearsing for a new show of Demos and Vandals. Current scenes have a few hundred extras (left over from The Matrix: Reloaded and Howard the Duck) absent-mindedly wandering out on the great highway, doing a West Coast Story dance with police while they search desperately for their lost chance at maturity.

              • valkygrrl said, “This is what’s happening.”

                Please tell me in some detail how what’s going on in the USA right now is remotely close to being equivalent to that which you have chosen to portray with that movie snippet?

                • You see, Major Strassur is Trump (if the jackboot fits) and the german soldiers are the people who voted for him (if the jackboots fit) and the protesters are the patrons at Rick’s showing their feelings. And all the people who are saying it won’t be so bad, they’re Maximilian von Heune in Cabaret, and Aliza is that kid who sings tomorrow belongs to me.

                  • I think the comparison is not even in the ball park.

                    The Germans were an invading foreign force occupying a country against their will. As much as I dislike Trump, he and his supporters are nothing of the sort and I find the comparison to be deplorable.

                  • This is the kind of hysterical and biased over-reach that has kids rioting in the streets.You really should cut it out. Hillary’s followers remind me more of fascists than Trump’s fans. Random disrupting riots just to unsettle things is one clue.

                    • Here is something interesting that you may not know.

                      At the same time the anti-Act 10 protesters in Madison, WI were holding up signs around the Wisconsin State Capital building comparing Governor Walker to Hitler, to protesters were also threatening and imposing boycotts of any business around the Capital square if they did not put up signs in their windows supporting the protesters. There is so much blatant hypocrisy that emanates from the political left when they get their underwear in a bundle it’s like a hive mind of the Borg; if you point it out that they needed to stop the Hitler references and the hypocritical boycott thuggery, as a friend of mine did on the Capital square, the wackos literally surround you en masse on the street and start verbally accosting you.

                    • I forgot to add the statement like you did, “That can’t be right.”

                      BISDGI ??!!

                      ARRRRRRGH!!! Not another one that I can’t figure out! Even after years and years int he Army and I’m still acronym ignorant. 😉

                  • Based on the street interviews done with the protesters…you give them far too much credit. This is a game to most of them. Blocking freeways, preventing medical professionals from saving lives, damaging public buildings…it’s fashionable now. It’s the new running-of-the-bulls for white hipster trust fund kids. If these snowflakes ever faced an actual threat to their safety and liberty, they’d just roll over and die like paper dolls.

                    • I don’t think it is a game. Or, like the games that matter they are games-of-consequence. I have spent some time these days watching “Democracy Now” with Amy Goodman. I think I understand their vision. They really do see immigration as completely non-threatening. They want more. They really do want to create a ‘people of color’ society. They are social revolutionaries. They represent liberal-radicalism expressed through democratic forms of mass-mobilization. And it is also pretty clear that not only can they not defend any aspect of ‘white culture’ or ‘white identity’ but that, as a logical consequence, in the society they envision it will cease to exist. They take it over, they possess it.

                      [That is why (in my mind) the primary definition is one of white identity. It is maddeningly hard though to work out a justification for it, this I admit. Yet it seems to be the crux. If I did not even make that statement, if I did not see things that way, people would perhaps see me as strictly conservative but not as a Nazi. But the minute that you declare ‘white identity’ as a value of objective you alienate just about everyone.It is unthinkable thought].

                      Glenn Greenwald spells it out pretty clearly: Trump and the smash-success of this New Republicanism will offer to the Left a great opportunity to build oppositional coalitions which can only be as dramatic and even more dramatic than what we now see.

                      I understand their perspectives because I spent a looooonnggg time reading their source: Noam Chomsky. Chomsky is nothing less than a communist. He has trickely changed the nomenclature to Anarcho-Syndicalist.

                      I see this progressivism as deriving from American tenets though. The most essential American tenets. I’d even go so far as to say that these Democracy Now types are in fact more American than the conservatives. The Democracy Now front takes their Americanism to its logical conclusion. Emerson, Whitman, Guthrie, Chomsky.

                      Trump and Giuliani and Christi and even Palin are just as American, but they seem to represent its parallel structures. Maybe the best blend of the two poles was FD Roosevelt?

                  • valkygrrl writes: “And all the people who are saying it won’t be so bad, they’re Maximilian von Heune in Cabaret, and Aliza is that kid who sings ‘tomorrow belongs to me’.

                    I looked it up and listened to it. I agree with Lotrop Stoddard that ‘Teutonic Imperialism’ was one of the worst events of history for Europe, and a disaster for European culture and whites.

                    You made another reference that proved somewhat interesting reference: Dan Burros. I watched the movie that they made on it and I was mildly impressed. The Believer. I won’t bore you with a critique.

                    But if you want to have a sense of what we Nacionalistas listen to try Saga, a Swedish singer.

                  • Disease encroaching on all I hold dear,
                    Somehow I gotta get my soul outta here.
                    Heart of agony, faint burning hope,
                    I’m finding it hard to try and cope.

                    Because liars own the world with a conquering poise,
                    In a wasteland of meaningless noise.
                    We don’t stand a chance with a dormant pride,
                    The heroes of our race have already died…

        • Neil A. Dorr said, “Violence is coming.”

          Please explain why you think “violence is coming”.

          That’s not a rhetorical question; dump your anger, put your intelligence where you mouth is, and explain it.

  4. I don’t think you’ll have to worry about Ginzberg for much longer.

    Trump’s signature legislation, first cab off the rank, is to get rid of all permanent Federal appointments. If he gets that through, a big if, then all Federal Judges that don’t pass the FRC’s vetting process for political appointees will go. I think Ed Meese is the one doing the DOJ and Judiciary at the moment.

    I can’t see any of the current SCOTUS judges passing that. Even Alito has shown too much independance.

      • Jack, never have I been so glad to be so completely and totally wrong.

        “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour….”

        —U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 1

        Ok, there’s still the issue of what constitutes good Behaviour, but that’s a very significant hurdle, impossible to jump quickly, and unlikely to be jumped at all without being swiftly shut down. The rules have changed, but not all of them.

        Trump is not a politician. He doesn’t know what’s supposed to be politically possible, and what’s not. Conventions and customs are meaningless to him, as is the political future of the GOP.

        • “Ok, there’s still the issue of what constitutes good Behaviour, but that’s a very significant hurdle, impossible to jump quickly, and unlikely to be jumped at all without being swiftly shut down. The rules have changed, but not all of them.”

          There’s no issue there as it concerns the President. What constitutes “good behavior” is up to the House, who constitutionally is the sole power in government that can write up articles of impeachment (the only way to get a Supreme Court Justice removed outside of waiting on nature)

            • Concern – in time of war, you genuinely have to grant dictatorial and extremely dangerous to civil rights power to the executive. The UK was run as a dictatorship even more stringent than Germany in WWII, with the US not that far behind.

              You have to do this, just as you have to allow a President the sole discretion to use nuclear weapons on an instant’s notice.

              The Patriot Act and various others have, under limited circumstances, given the Impirium to the administration. Because they had to, despite the dangers.

              As long as those in charge either have oversight, some minders to stop them going off the rails, and are approximately sane – “wrong within normal bounds” – it works. Or has done so far.

              Trump is not “wrong within normal bounds”, and I’ve become convinced that Pence might not be either. I can’t see either Cruz or Huckabee being quite so overtly Dominionist so early. Not Reconstructionist ,(yet) but that’s on the cards. And Trump takes any opprobrium.

              I’m concerned that so many checks and balances rely on custom, and tradition – often dating back over a century – and “political realities”, unwritten laws. For an example, look at the GOP refusing to even look at any Obama SCOTUS nomination. The idea is that they will pay the price for obstruction, or government shutdown, or other politically unthinkable acts at the polls. Just as no presidential candidate could face trial for fraud before inauguration, and of course careless handling of clasdified material and outright refusal to abide by security procedures is also an obvious disqualification.

              When a President doesn’t give a damn what happens to the party in future years, when “oh of course we can’t do that” doesn’t work, when he has no political experience, then he can test the limits of what the ketter of the law actually says, as opposed to what everyone for over a century has interpreted it to say just so the gears of government function smoothly.

              I live in a country where to a lesser extent, the head of the administration did exactly that. He lasted 18 months, but apart from putting a few thousand refugees in a concentration camp, did little really terrible harm. Yes, ignored international law, the Australian Constitution etc etc but that will take years to resolve through the courts. Some pollies might end up in the Hague charged with really obvious and blatant Crimes Against Humanity… But not for a decade or more.

              I see the US system is really vulnerable to that. Also your civilian cyber security sucks, I’m waiting for the FSB/Guccifer 2.0 to lower the boom on the GOP at a time when confusion will aid Russian interests.

              And I’m so worried about the baggage retrieval system they’ve got at Heathrow.

              • zoebrain said, “you have to allow a President the sole discretion to use nuclear weapons on an instant’s notice.”

                Yes the President has to be the one to give the ultimate order to use nuclear weapons but “sole discretion” has implications beyond being the final say it also implies that he could wake up tomorrow morning and order the military to nuke Mexico City because they allow heroin to enter the USA through their northern border or nuke Australia into oblivion because he doesn’t like Koalas. The military should and would tell the President to get bent. No, this is not a dictatorship, the President does not have “sole discretion”.

                What’s fact is the President would have to make a decision based on available information on an active threat to the USA and upon recommendation of the military to use nukes. There would have to be some kind of reasonable consensus based on the threat. No one, including the military, takes the use of nukes lightly!

      • I am just so tired of the “He/She is just so brilliant” excuse. How is it that liberals are all so brilliant and conservatives are morons? Okay, so she’s “brilliant.” But she’s acting like a brat.

        • Other Bill said, “How is it that liberals are all so brilliant and conservatives are morons?”

          Here’s how critical thinking works for most Liberals…

          Republicans are wrong.

          …thus ends the critical thinking for most Liberals.

          Other Bill said, “Okay, so she’s ‘brilliant.’ But she’s acting like a brat.”

          She’s lost her mojo.

          • There really should be a mandatory retirement age for supreme court justices. I’ve got to believe it’s incredibly hard work. I just don’t see people in their sixties having the energy, never mind in their seventies or eighties. Preposterous and arrogant.

  5. Ruth has simply entered the “KMA club.” (Kiss My A… you get the picture)

    This club can be entered by coming into a large amount of money, or being old enough, or having a terminal illness.

    Members no longer have to bow to conventions, are generally immune to common reprisal, and so forth.

    My grandmother will be 90 this year, and has (belatedly) entered the about age 86. My other grandmother was an honorary member the last 30 years of her life (it just wasn’t worth the effort to reign her in 🙂 )

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