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  • Justice Ginsburg: "I Would Not Look to the U.S. Constitution"

    Conservatives are often ridiculed for criticizing activist judges who fail to respect the Constitution. We are told that it is not conservative originalists (labeled ignorant and extremist) but rather enlightened liberal judges—with their nuanced understanding of constitutional penumbras—who truly respect the spirit of the Constitution.

    Conservatives, however, have good reason to be skeptical of the left’s “respect’’ for the Constitution. Just last week, for example, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told an Egyptian TV station that she would not recommend the U.S. Constitution as model for Egypt’s new government.

    The problem, you see, is that the U.S. Constitution is “a rather old constitution.” Ginsburg suggested that Egyptians should look instead to the Constitution of South Africa or perhaps the European Convention on Human Rights. All these are “much more recent than the U.S. Constitution.”

    Ginsburg’s comments echo those by Washington University professor David Law, who published a study with Mila Versteeg on the U.S. Constitution’s declining influence worldwide. In an interview, Law unfavorably compared the Constitution to “Windows 3.1”—outdated and unattractive in a world of sleek and sexy modern constitutions. Such obsession with the age of the Constitution is both absurd and irrelevant.

    For one, the Constitution is still among the shortest and most elegantly written constitutions in the world. By contrast, South Africa’s constitution is well over 100 pages long, filled with tables, schedules, and such stirring passages as detailed provisions for a Financial and Fiscal Commission: “A. National legislation referred to in subsection (1) must provide for the participation of – a. the Premiers in the compilation of a list envisaged in subsection (1) (b); and b. organized local government in the compilation of a list envisaged in subsection (1) (c).” And you thought the U.S. Constitution was hard to read.

    Equally ridiculous is the claim that the Constitution is too antiquated to apply to the modern world. The principles of the Constitution, although first articulated centuries ago, are not tied to the material conditions of a bygone age. They rest on that most solid and enduring of all foundations: human nature. The Constitution itself contains no policy prescriptions. Rather, it is a short, elegantly written document that create a framework for a free people to confront the political questions of their times.

    Of course, the real reason progressives swoon over South Africa’s constitution is that it goes far beyond merely establishing a framework for government and guarantees progressive policies—for example, by requiring legislation that prevents pollution and ecological degradation. In other words, the left’s real discontent with the U.S. Constitution is that it does not require Americans to adopt a progressive government and expansive welfare state that provides for every “right” social scientists can justify.

    Americans should be very wary of those who would seek to upend the Constitution from the firm grounding in human nature that has allowed it to endure for more than two centuries and would transform it into an instrument devoted to policies of passing whimsy.

    Posted in Featured, First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    34 Responses to Justice Ginsburg: "I Would Not Look to the U.S. Constitution"

    1. Bobbie says:

      I couldn't listen to her! I can't stand anyone who thinks less of anyone elses ability to carry on their inalienable right of freedom from government control that's outlined in the American Constitution. She's a racist, too!

    2. rebelready says:

      Ginsburg suggested that Egyptians should look instead to the Constitution of South Africa or perhaps the European Convention on Human Rights. All these are “much more recent than the U.S. Constitution.” We have amendments–READ THEM! The Constitution has fallen to corruption and corruption is destroying the greatest nation on Earth. The Constitution is mere rhetoric for the average American because our courts have been infiltrated by the corrupt. The impotent legislative branch has been informed by the American people for years that that the US Courts are corrupt. Congress has the authority to oversee the courts but gave it to the Judicial Conference where these criminals-yes criminals- regulate themselves.

    3. rebelready says:

      EXAMPLE: Leo T. Sorokin's promotion to Chief Magistrate US District Court of Massachusetts on FEB 1. This Magistrate Judge violated human and constitutional rights, ignored criminal contempt and fraud upon the court by corrupt court staff and corrupt attorneys. He assisted in promoting pretense litigation and the blocking of all filings from the US District Judge. He fraudulently found a disabled litigant in contempt and dismissed her case forging the US District Judge's name and scanned the document prior to entry in the system to cover the fraud; when aware he was caught he attempted to cover-up using a criminal case where the attorney for the convicted criminal is one minute walking distance from the corrupt civil defense attorneys. The circuit executive office then aided and abetted crime by producing bogus judicial misconduct orders written by the ACE/Legal affairs person who works for the federal judiciary with an inactive law license.

    4. rebelready says:

      The office of general counsel also aided and abetted by purposefully ignoring rules established by the Judicial Conference that would ensure the purpose of a congressional act. The court of appeals took a filing fee twice; in collusion with corrupt Jackson Lewis attorneys and the corrupt USDC staff, the USCA1 corrupt staff blocked the filings from any judge.

    5. rebelready says:

      The end result is the Plaintiff was denied justice and her Constitutional Rights, federal law enforcement did nothing, corrupt attorneys made their money, the corrupt Magistrate Judge was promoted to Chief, and the new Director for the Administrative Office of the US Courts, Judge Hogan, determined the 3rd Branch should be exempt from the federal wage freeze. The 771 pages of tyranny are now before the US Congress; the question now is how long before our impotent legislative body takes a hit of Viagra and restores our justice system? The tyranny is happening in US Courts all over this country. The corrupt staff in these courts are under the delusion that they have life tenure and are exempt from law; they freely break federal criminal law with no fear of consequence. This comment is backed by public record-do not delete it when these alleged criminals make the request because only the alleged criminals would flag this post; America wants her justice system back. The courts belong to the people not the corrupt!!!! http://scr.bi/wU3Los http://scr.bi/wkEI5n http://scr.bi/zC29QR

    6. West Texan says:

      You're correct about the dim witted social ambitions of egalitarians. To borrow from that old tuna commercial, "Sorry, Ruth. our enlightened founders wanted a constitution that placed the people over government, not government over the people.". Throw Ginsburg back in the water.

    7. John says:

      Thank you! A Constitution is not an iPod! It doesn't become obsolete. What you have to realize is that S. Africa has had 4 Constitutions in the past 100 years. A Constitution that is written for a particular time will only last for that particular time. That's what's so great about the US Constitution. It allows the government to change under the Constitution to meet the needs of the times, whereas a government has very little wiggle-room under the book that S. Africa has for its Constitution. It's extremely dissapointing that someone sworn to defend a document would shame it in front of the whole world. It's really almost treasonous.

    8. Stirling says:

      It's an embarrasement to the Supreme Court, and the Founding Fathers who founded this great republic to have a supreme court justice to trash the very doccument that she has sworn to uphold. It really shows her lack of respect for this country.

    9. Kds says:

      Our Constitution IS old. I agree that it is beautifully written and that it has served us well, but why would anyone want to base their new constitution off of a document that causes so much controversy when applied to modern life? Take the idea of creating a simple frame based off of human nature, and then use successful constitutions written sometime after the advent of electricity to find the ideal content. I think the Founding Fathers would be happy to hear someone giving intelligent dialogue about the real positives and negatives of their revolutionary experiment when applied centuries later. To say that no one has improved upon their ideas in the past few hundred years is ignorant.

    10. This is why there should be term limits on the Supreme court. This woman has outlived her userfulness when she can't look to the Constitution by which her appointment was made in favorable times. She is now USELESS and should resign.

    11. Joe the Lawyer says:

      Justice Ginsburg's comments are shocking. Her Honor notes that the U.S. Constitution is the longest-surviving written constitution in the world, yet she apparently fails to understand why: Because it is written exactly the way a national constitutional document should be written. Justice Ginsburg would no doubt agree that the needs of society change over time as new challenges arise and new opportunities are met. Can she truely fail to understand that proscriptive regulations are time-bound, doomed from the start to have only temporary relevance? The U.S. Constitution sets out powers and duties of, and rules for relationships among, core functional elements of national government, an approach is not time-bound. Ours has endured longer than any other constitution because its relevance is not limited by temporary circumstance. The U.S. Constitutional will remain relevant and vibrant long after every proscriptive regulation in existence or imagined has become pointless and counter-productive. I can only wish that Justice Ginsberg would fare so well.

    12. Lloyd Scallan says:

      Keep in mind this "Supreme Court Justice" makes rulings that affect our lives, supposedly based on the Constitution, yet while in a foreign country, condemns the governing document she has sworn to follow and uphold. Isn't that real close to treason? If we feel Ginsburg is bad, just wait until Obama's two new Justices get there sea legs under them. Ginsburg is not a pimple on their butts. Yet despite this latest attempt to tear-down our country through the jusdicial system, we still refuse to entertain putting terms limits on Supreme Court Justicies. Why! Please don't use the word "impeachment". That worked so well with Bill Clinton? Impeachment only works when there is a fair-minded, non-partisen Congress, and that's one thing we haven't had for decades.

    13. allen says:

      She should be checked under Obama care for being Brain Dead, Everyone has an Aunt like this. Most loving people would make sure that auntie is in a Home and taken care of ,Not us we put the Old Lady on the Court.

    14. Jill Maine says:

      Fits right in line with the damn democrat that got her appointed (clinton) and the Marist pres we are now stuck with. I think this should be grounds to throw her out. We don't need this decrepid witch either.

    15. Mike says:

      Around Washington DC there are thousands of Cherry Trees. I think it would be appropriate to name each tree for a sitting member of government. Maybe a little stone with their name carved in it at the base of every tree. We could hold a ceremony at their Swearing In for each and every official and we could read a dedication that would include a passage describing the profound trust the people of America bestow on their government, it's elected officials and their assigns, and how seriously profound is their responsibility to actually uphold their oath under our constitution. Near the end of that dedication there should be awarded to the government official, a symbolic hang-mans noose, made of cheap hemp and housed in a cardboard box, stipulating that the person understands that, by accepting his/her responsibility as an official of these United States, should he/she break faith and fail to carry out his/her duties under the constitution, he/she would be hung by this cheap hemp rope from this very cherry tree.

    16. badsdad says:

      This is striking and stunning all at once. A Supreme Court Justice denigrating the Constitution she has sworn an oath to uphold. The Constitution is outdated? It's too old to be relevant today? South Africa's is better? Canada's is better? Europe's…? Really?? If this doesn't shout out for impeachment what does? The Supreme Court is so politicized as to render ITSELF outdated and irrelevant. This is irrefutable proof that this court can no longer be the impartial, objective arbiter of constitutional matters. Just listen to what this radical far left activist thinks about the constitution and decide for yourself whether or not this is legitimate jurisprudence or leftist activism. If she thinks this poorly of the Constitution then what does she use as a guideline when making decisions on constitutional law? Her own biases? Her own political opinions? Her own beliefs? Some other country's constitution? All of the above, certainly! Anything but the Constitution of the United States.

    17. badsdad says:

      To have a radical activist as biased as this sitting on the Supreme Court (or any court) is unjust, and oppressive! This is the very definition of tyranny! She has essentially stripped the blindfold from Lady Justice and added her own weight to one side of the scale of Justice. This is why we should never trust liberals with the reins of power. This is the voice of liberalism speaking for all to hear. This is the momentum, the thrust of progressives, their impetus taking us farther and farther to the left, until we no longer have any constitutional guidelines, only leftist dogma. This is so enlightening of their progressive agenda; a small group of elitists ruling over the rest of us. The people serving government as opposed to our constitutional model of government serving the people.

      It's hard to listen to this arrogant elitist snob.

    18. Kim says:

      Maybe it is time for Justice Ginsburg to retire and move herself to South Africa……

    19. C.Adli says:

      It is the Constition that she is still there.Whitout it she would have been taken out of there and sent to oblivion long time ago.

    20. Ron says:

      Justice Ginsberg took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution. She is an embarassment to any American that has a conscience. Our constitution is the greatest document ever written. It is sad that America does not have anyone of the caliber and intelligence of our founding fathers. The justice needs to be impeached.

    21. Stan says:

      She is aTOTAL disgrace to every American and she should be relieved of her duties immediately !!!!

    22. R. Cosden says:

      Each of the above conservative critiques, as usual, took the justice'sstatement out of context. Please, those of you so eager to condemn, read the full article again. It seems too many of you do not want facts to disturb your already made up opinions. Please stop hating. Stop it,s us against them or them against us. We are all Americans. We arein this together. Peace

      • M. Torr says:

        Each of the Supreme court justices take an oath to uphold the US Constitution. I feel strongly that they need to take that oath seriously. If that is a problem, they should resign or be relieved of duty.

    23. Gayle says:

      I'm the first to admit I'm not an expert on the Constitution, however were it not for the Constitution, Ginsberg would be out of her current job.

    24. Rick O' says:

      So what does it take to remove a SCOTUS?
      A Supreme Court Justice may be impeached by the House of Representatives and removed from office if convicted in a Senate trial, but only for the same types of offenses that would trigger impeachment proceedings for any other government official under Articles I and II of the Constitution.

      Article III, Section 1 states that judges of Article III courts shall hold their offices "during good behavior." "The phrase "good behavior" has been interpreted by the courts to equate to the same level of seriousness 'high crimes and misdemeanors" encompasses.

    25. Cory says:

      http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/02/09/42235

      It would be wise to reach your conclusions regarding this matter less hastily, and in a more evenhanded manner.

    26. Tonie says:

      I am appalled by her comments about our Constitution. If she does not like or wish to suggest other countries use our Constitution as an example for theirs', why is she on the Supreme Court – she should resign today!!! She should go live in a country such as Cuba and live by their rules and she how she likes it there.

    27. Jeffrey Kerr says:

      For a Justice of the Supreme Court to make such a statement is embarrassing and frankly disturbing. Her job is to interrupt the constitution, not ignore it or advocate the abolishment of it as a model. The United States is one of the greatest nations on earth and although we struggle to find our ways at times. We are a nation that is blessed and i am confident that we will continue to change what needs to be changed, even though it might take some time. A true American has no place to ever demean or weaken the concrete foundation of the Constitution which has protected and built this nation.

    28. Guest says:

      Gingsberg needs to go away, maybe to a good nursing home. She has no regard for Our Constitution. We need to take a good hard look at the serving time of our Justices!!!!!

    29. G Journeay says:

      Most of these comments seem to come from people who "couldn't listen to her" or are incapable of understanding what she said. She in no way denigrated the U.S. Constitution. She said it was old, which it is. It was written for a primarily agricultural economy. It is a good constitution, but in some instances it does show its age. She recommended that in writing a new constitution the Egyptians should study recent constitutions. If I were hiring a lawyer, I would hope he/she would consult all of the latest law relating to my case. In writing a constitution a people should study all available constitutions, note whee they have excelled and been deficient and plan an instrument suitable for their country. The Egyptians are not Americans and their interests and needs may differ some from ours. A great problem in this country is that neither side can listen to the other an can not cooperate; that is exemplified in many of these comments. Heaven help us.

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