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Justice Scalia: Ruth Ginsburg Is My Best Friend

Friday, 16 May 2008 05:09 PM

By Phil Brennan

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Of all of Antonin Scalia's fellow justices, ultra liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is his best friend.

That’s the surprising admission of Scalia, a target of liberals who all but worship Ginsburg. He revealed his closeness to her Friday during an appearance on the "Laura Ingraham Show" where he spoke about his new book “The Art of Persuading Judges.”

“I consider myself a good friend of every one of my colleagues, both past and present,” Scalia told Laura. “Some more than others. My best friend on the Court is and has been for many years, Ruth Ginsburg. Her basic approach is not mine, but she’s a lovely person and a good loyal friend.”

During the show, Scalia, the father of nine children, mentioned his personal opposition to abortion, his opinion of the controversial use of foreign law in forging court opinions, and the advice he gives lawyers on how to behave before the Court — “get to the point.”

Among his revelations:

  • On his philosophy of originalism (going back to the original intent of the men who wrote the Constitution and the legislators who wrote laws) in judging: “ In a democracy, the people decide how they’re governed. The majority rules. If you don’t believe that you don’t believe in democracy. If that is the general rule, it has to be the general rule for the Constitution as well. When I apply a Bill of Rights against a federal statute that’s been enacted, I say ‘no, that statute cannot stand because it contradicts the Constitution.’ In one sense I’m being anti-democratic because I’m telling the people’s representatives they can’t do what they want to do.

    “The only thing that justifies that is that in the broader sense I am democratic because it is the people who decided upon this Bill of Rights. They decided that there were certain things that Congress couldn’t do, and since they decided that I am really giving effect to the will of the people when I say this particular statute is invalid.

    “If you adopt a philosophy of interpretation that says ‘oh, the meaning of the Bill of Rights changes according to whatever the Supreme Court [says it means]’ suddenly all of the democratic principle is simply sucked out of what the Court does. It is up to the Court to decide what Congress can and can’t do.”

  • On the use of foreign law in deciding cases: “There is nothing wrong with using international law if you think your job is to rewrite the Constitution. Just as the Framers consulted what the English and the French and what the Dutch had done, in drafting the Constitution, of course you would do that.

    “If you have this philosophy, that it’s up to the Court to revise the Constitution to keep it up to date I suppose it makes sense to [use foreign laws]. If you have my philosophy that the Constitution means what the American people adopted, what possible relevance to the meaning of a provision that the America people adopted in 1791 when they ratified the Bill of Rights, or after the Civil War when they ratified the 14th Amendment — what possible relevance could the musings of current French courts or Ugandan courts or any other court have?

    “Consulting foreign law lends itself to gaming — you consult it when it reaches the result you’d like to reach and when it doesn’t you just ignore it.” That, he said, is what happened when foreign laws supported abortion — the Court ignored them.

  • On abortion: “I’ve been against Roe v. Wade because I don’t think the Constitution prohibits the states from banning abortion. On the other hand, I don’t agree with the opposite side which argues that the Constitution requires that the state’s prohibit abortion. I don’t think that’s true either. It’s not there in the Constitution.”

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