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Ginsburg to Congress: Stop the Nonsense

By William Vogeler, Esq. on September 18, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When the late Justice Antonin Scalia was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed him.

In contrast two decades later, nearly two dozen Senators -- voting along party lines -- opposed the nomination of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. A pattern of partisan opposition emerged as Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan came before the lawmakers for consideration.

"My hope -- and I hope I will live to see it in this lifetime -- is that our Congress will get over this nonsense," said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Partisan "Nonsense"

Speaking at a conference called "The American Dream Reconsidered," Ginsburg spoke out against the partisan nature of Supreme Court confirmation hearings. She said it threatens the spirit of judicial independence and called for a return to "the bipartisan spirit that had prevailed in the 80's and 90's."

Ginsburg, the featured speaker at the conference in Chicago, reflected on her professional association with Scalia. She called him a "dear colleague," even though they had epic disagreements about the law.

"They liked to fight things out in good spirit -- in fair spirit -- not the way we see debates these days on television," NPR's Nina Totenberg said after Scalia died last year. Ginsburg said they were "best buddies."

Women's Rights

Ginsburg also talked about challenges she and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor faced as women in the law. If more law firms had been hiring women in the 1950's and 1960's, O'Connor said, "we both would have be retired partners at large law firms."

"When things look bleak, it may turn out to operate in your favor," Ginsburg told the audience at Roosevelt University.

O'Connor was the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court; Ginsburg the second. O'Connor retired in 2006, but her name resurfaced recently when historical records showed she was admitted to practice as "Mrs. John O'Connor."

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