Why did she do it? Why did she step outside her frilly cravat and black robes for poli-talk. Inappropriate for a sitting Supreme Court Justice. Inappropriate.
First, I know that plenty disagree with me on that last word. But for those of you of the leftward lean, imagine if Justice Scalia had said the same about candidate Obama. There were calls for Justice Alito’s head when he publicly reacted to the President’s State of the Union by reflexively shaking his head no and mouthing, “Not true.” That’s nothing like calling a major party candidate a faker and saying he’ll bring America to ruin. Let’s be intellectually honest here and call the game fairly.
Back to the why. Why did she step so far out? She hasn’t crossed the line this directly into politics before.
Some say it’s because in her eighth decade, she will just say whatever she likes. Others wonder if she is feeling her moniker as The Notorious R.G.B. and was lost in her own importance. Was she careless? It’s hard to think that her remarks were casual, especially because she repeated them before she walked them back and apologized.
I think she was deliberate in her statements. She was in a sit down with the New York Times. It’s as if she sought an opportunity to be on the record. I think it’s because she is afraid. She as much as said so.
I imagine a scenario where she’s feeling that this cycle is very different. That established rules of behavior and decorum of the presidential election process are being flaunted. That even as personal and ugly as elections have become, that there is a new level of debasement. And it is frightening.
I have a hunch that she thinks this is the worst, and most dangerous, election in modern American history. That our democracy, that America, is seriously at risk. I imagine that she felt compelled to do something. She felt remaining silent was an abdication of her oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That, if she could, she must use her influence.
I bet she didn’t map out about the true political ramifications of her comments. She played directly into the narrative that scares her. She immediately became the lighting rod for judicial overreach, for confusing the roles in our Constitution, for the out of touch establishment and as the worst of liberals trying to protect their liberalness. By taking the unprecedented steps of directly commenting on an active election, she likely expected to have an impact. But she wasn’t going to have much impact on her own choir, and she riled up the other team.
Justice Ginsburg is a brave person both on the bench and personally. But she blew this because she played outside of her strength. It’s recklessness borne of a growing alarm.
Writing a note to self: Do not act out of fear. Act from the strength of convictions. Yours, not someone else’s.