October 31, 2006

Why the antagonism toward Ruth Bader Ginsburg?

She won the "Least Favorite Justice" poll with 40 percent of the vote. I understand that who linked had a lot to do with whether a liberal or a conservative won. Clarence Thomas would have won if more liberal blogs had linked to the poll, and the question would be why Thomas and not Scalia. So the question is, out of the liberal choices, was was Ginsburg such a clear "least favorite"? David Lat asks:
[W]hy not Justice Souter, who "betrayed" the conservatives who put him on the Court? Or Justice Stevens, another Republican appointee who didn't turn out as expected -- and who refuses to step down from the Court, despite his advancing age? Or Justice Kennedy, the fickle swing voter, who could give the conservatives real control, if only he fell into line?
It's damned hard to think of a reason other than sexism.

IN THE COMMENTS: The strongest argument that it's not sexism seems to be that Ginsburg is easy to recognize as one of the liberals. So if you want to vote against a liberal, you know you're achieving that by picking her. If you try to go for one the men... they look too much alike... you might goof up.

70 comments:

ginabina said...

Maybe the question was coupled with the nude cruise topic. I think she's probably the one I'd least like to see nude (not that I'd like to see ANY of them nude, mind you.)

George said...

It's her hairdo.

Edward said...

Yes, Yes, Yes. I agree that it must have been sexism.

And it puts conservatives who worship Scalia and Thomas in a particularly bad light, because they’re clearly the ones who voted for (against) Ginsburg.

To a lesser extent, they might also have voted for (against) her, because they’re afraid of how effective Ginsburg is as a justice.

But I guess that would just be another manifestation of sexism, right?

I also think her physical appearance played a role in the poll’s result.

I don’t have a problem at all with how Ginsburg looks, but I bet a lot of conservatives make fun of her appearance.

But that’s just sexism, too, right? They would never dream of evaluating a male justice based on his physical appearance.

Aluwid said...

The ACLU angle and the fact that any vote by her in a manner with which I agree is a pleasant surprise. But I think I'm being redundant with my two statements.

My 2 cents...

Art said...

Because Karl Rove told them to?

Goesh said...

I'm a bad one for calling her a prune and that is rank sexism on my part. I need to mend my ways and do better with my life.

Zeb Quinn said...

She's a Jew too Ann, maybe it's on account of the anti-Semitic faction. You missed that one.

Accusations of racism and sexism have become the new last refuge of scoundrels. It's become the bomb to throw when unable to otherwise refute opponents on the merits. So, if a woman or minority is in the equation in any way, the happenstance of that presence is exploited to tar their opponent, without regard or respect any truth to the accusation.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is despised because many people have a visceral disagreement with her philosophy. She represents a way of thinking, a world view, that repulses many. Hence, she too gets treated as repulsive. And to those people she is often regarded as their least favorite justice. Not that hard to figure out.

Me, I don't like anything about Ginsberg. But she's not my least favorite justice, because at least she's honest about who she is, and you know what you're getting with her.

Joe said...

During the Roberts and Scalia confirmation battles, I recall some conservative group runnning ads of Ginsburg quotes on different topics which showed her as a radical leftist. I imagine some residual effect of these ads played a part. They did for me.

Fenrisulven said...

Nah, we're busted - we really hate women in power. Thats it. Even Hunter does. After lunch, we're going downtown to convert to Islam.

Freeman Hunt said...

She's with reliably liberal and probably has the best name recognition.

rhodeymark1 said...

Was Ann's emphatic conclusion that it must be sexism bait? For if so, Edward took it and set the hook himself. As aluwid said, it's simple: her history, her philosophy, her actions. There are male former justices who would have eclipsed her (among cons) had the breadth of the poll been expanded.

Balfegor said...

It's damned hard to think of a reason other than sexism.

It's hard for me to think of a reason a large number of people would consider her the worst. But I considered considering her the worst for a few reasons -- her stance on copyright (even if most of the court agrees with her, I still see her as the "leader," so to speak, on that issue), her role in the abortion debate from way back all through the present, and her clotted writing.

I think, in the public eye, she may also be paired up against Scalia, even if she's not quite as aggressive as he is, because they're chummy together. As a result, while he gets treated as the poster-boy for a "conservative" jurisprudence, she gets treated as the poster-girl for a "liberal" jurisprudence, and Souter, Stevens, and Breyer sink back into the background.

On the other hand, re: Edward -- how has Ginsburg been an "effective" justice? She doesn't seem particularly influential to me, at least compared against the late Chief or Stevens, although I am not a particularly devoted court-watcher.

Balfegor said...

Ruth Bader Ginsberg is despised because many people have a visceral disagreement with her philosophy. She represents a way of thinking, a world view, that repulses many. Hence, she too gets treated as repulsive. And to those people she is often regarded as their least favorite justice. Not that hard to figure out.

Yes, but why not Breyer? He's the one with the book out, after all. You get bonus anti-Elite points for attacking Breyer too, because his tastes (apparently) run to the hoity-toity. His favourite author is Proust or somesuch -- this counts in his favour in my book, but I expect it would count against him for most. And I think he's out in front on the issue of deferring to "international" (Western European) jurisprudence.

dick said...

I agree totally with rhodeymarki. It is her judicial history and her actions and her philosophy. It has nothing to do with her sex.

I have personally worked for several women over the years who were in very responsible positions and had no problems with them at all. In this case I just feel she is so far out of my mainstream that I could never support her.

Joe Baby said...

I guess it could be sexism...

But don't underestimate the ACLU label, whose values appear to be her touchstone.

It could simply be that she is the most liberal member of the court. Period.

Lou Wainwright said...

I voted for her as least favorite because I view her as the least independent thinker of the nine. Analyzing the annual scorecards of votes every year shows that she is frequently the judge who is least likely to vote away from her peers. If S&S vote one way, she'll always vote that way, if neither S&S vote for something, she'll never vote for it either. It's not that she's liberal, it's that she's predictably and boringly so. I have no personal animosity towards her, she probably isn't the justice I disagree with the most, and it certainly had nothing to do with her sex or looks, but if you are going to rank the group 1-9 someone had to be on the bottom and I thought it was an easy choice.

Biff said...

I'm not so sure that it's sexism. I have a casual curiosity about the Court and a mild interest in the various personalities, but my knowledge is quite superficial, as I am not associated with the legal profession in any way (well, aside from that speeding ticket in rural Vermont last week).

From my naive perspective, Ginsburg is the only liberal personality on the court interesting enough for a casual observer to notice, much less get worked up about. The other liberal-leaning judges seem to blend into a vague, monochromatic, blandness that seems unlikely to inspire interest, much less passion.

Now that I think about it, maybe it is sexism -- but not against the colorful Ginsburg, but rather it's sexism (leavened with a dollop of ageism and perhaps even racism) against the liberal male judges, who seem so easy to lump together as a bunch of boring, graying white men that a casual observer might not bother to give them a second thought.

PS. For the record, I picked Souter because of the Kelo kerfuffle. I'm in Connecticut, and Kelo still resonates here.

chickenlittle said...

Joe Baby said:

"It could simply be that she is the most liberal member of the court. Period."

I pulled that lever. I guess that makes me an anti-liberalist bigot in need of therapy.

Henry said...

I think the result is due more to gamesmanship than conviction. Conservatives saw Thomas losing early. This annoyed them and they started voting for liberal justices in retaliation.

As voting for the liberal justices pushed Ginsburg to a slim lead (hardly surprising since she is one of the more liberal justices and has good name recognition, as Joe pointed out), conservative voters realized that focusing the voting on Ginsburg would ensure that a liberal justice ended up the loser.

Snowball effect.

TMink said...

Antagonism? I bet she is a wonderful dinner companion. I voted for her because of her ideas. Funny thing that, thinking that ideas are important. Sorry, sarcasm off. I have not noticed that your blog in specific or the blogs I visit in general are loaded with racists or biggots.

What offends me most about her judicial approach is her appeal to international law as directive and instructive when considering domestic matters. That is impeachable as far as I am concerned. Isn't there something about protecting the Constitution in her swearing in ceremony or oath of office? Please excuse my ignorance about that particular. Scalia is my hero because originalism rings true with me as a valid philosophy. His being a man and Italian are beyond consideration, it is the philosophy and the votes that matter. I would have voted for Kennedy or Thomas or any person, man or woman, who espoused such dangerous and wrong judicial philosophy as Justice Ginsburg. And I bet the ACLU thing didn't help her either.

Trey

A Menken Moment said...

I think that poll (admittedly on a conservative blog) ranks her worse because of her past associations. I myself can't help but believe she puts ideology way ahead of an impartial regard for the law when it comes to issues relating to abortion and the quota system dressed up as "affirmative action." I disagree with Breyer and believe that, yielding to sentimentality and intuition over logic, he frequently makes up law on the fly, but I don't get the impression that he is beholden to any special interest groups.

Wickedpinto said...

I don't follow that stuff close, like you law types do. She's a crazy lib, I remember the coverage from her confermation, but I don't ever remember her being the kind of loopy swing, controversial type that kennedy is.

Her politics are irritating, but since she's never a pundit, or a patronizing voice in the ether, just a justic, I don't have a problem with her.

Jib said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Abraham said...

It may in a sense be sexist, but she comes across to many that I know as hostile to men, and what she did to VMI will never be forgiven.

Jib said...

Partisanship, pure and simple. Ginsburg is the most visible example of liberal partisanship on the court. She has hardly been quiet about her beliefs over the years, which has raised her profile. With the Thomas example, much of it goes back to his confirmation. There is a lot of lingering dislike for Thomas that I think can be traced back to that confirmation, which is why he's more disliked than Scalia. Sexism has little to do with Ginsburg's rating, just like racism has little to do with Thomas's unpopulariaty on the left, and I also think most people realize that. I think floating that Thomas-Scalia comparison & racism idea may be good for conversation, but also a little disingenuous.

Simon said...

Balfegor -
Breyer is no less a transnationalist than is Ginsburg, but Breyer wins respect (while certainly not agreement) from me insofar as he at least recognizes that this is a practise that needs some kind of defense.

The idea that sexism motivates hostility towards Ginsburg is simply absurd. If you took a straw poll of those who voted against her, as to whom they would like to see nominated to the Supreme Court, you would find that most of those folks would would very highly place several women - Sykes, Brown, Williams, Owen, Clement, etc. - on their lists. The hostility is for the reasons that Zeb stated above.

Al Maviva said...

It's not that she suffers compared to Breyer who is a liberal sort of textualist; or compared to Souter who strikes me as a pragmatist; or that her opinions are often blunt admissions that she thinks the law should go a certain direction because it's simply what she prefers.

Nope, it's the sexism. Pure and simple. I hates me some wimmin. Hey, wait a minute... "Ann" Althouse? That's a nickname for "Arnold" or something, right?

jinnmabe said...

It's damned hard to think of a reason other than sexism.

Well, it sure hasn't been that hard for the commenters here. I don't mean to offend, since I think you're one of the brightest people on the web, but I think it's always a mistake to make the argument "well, if I can't think of a reason, there must not be one." The limits of reality are not bounded by my personal imagination (and thank goodness for that).

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

It's the results-oriented jurisprudence, combined with the fact that she's more memorable, because she's a woman. It's not her gender that people have a problem with. It is just that she's easier to remember than Breyer, Stevens etc.

Fritz said...

Gender? You're Wrong! Republicans properly gave President Clinton his Constitutional deference. Under today's new Democrat confirmation rules, she should have been filibustered. While other Justices changed their approach, she was a known leftist. The fact she received more votes than Roberts & Alito burns me.

Here's a thread you might consider.

http://www.nysun.com/article/42583

I agree, Fitzgerald shouldn't be allowed to present crimes that Libby isn't charged with.

yetanotherjohn said...

Lets see. The two most 'distinguishable' persons on the court came in first and second. One was liberal and one was conservative. One was female, the other was balck. Every one else was white, male (and except for the most recent ones old enough to be your father). You seem to think conservative blogs linked to the poll more, so thats why the liberal ended up first.

Rather than saying its sexism, could it just possibly be that most people, even those of us politically aware enough to want to take the poll, don't know the justices as well? Run a poll with Breyer, Stevens and Souter. See how many people can match the face to the name. I bet a majority can't with out doing a quick check of 'the google'. Likewise, I bet people would have a hard time linking a given justice to a specific opinion.

I think she is more liberal than Breyer and more likely to misuse the power of the supreme court to impose a liberal agenda by fiat. That's my take. I may be wrong. Breyer may be a worse threat and certainly don't seem him as pure in that regard, but I think she is the worse of the two.

Simon said...

Fritz,
"Republicans properly gave President Clinton his Constitutional deference. Under today's new Democrat confirmation rules, she should have been filibustered."

Setting aside the issue of filibusters, I have to admit that I have a hard time believing that the impropriety rests with Democrats who voted against Alito rather that Republicans who voted for Ginsburg. The President deserves some deference in all of his appointments, but that deference approaches its perigee in judicial nominations and reaches it in Supreme Court nominations. Deference, yes, but not a blank cheque, and I think that it's hard to read Ginsburg's confirmation hearing transcripts and come to any conclusion but that her views on the role of the judiciary are antithetical to conservative legal theories, and so anyone who buys the latter should not have voted for the former.

Brent said...

Ann, don't fall into the trap of playing the "sexism" card. I want to think of you as better than Al Sharpton.

I, and probably at least a million other Americans, don't want someone that was in the ACLU, mush less the head, on the United States Supreme Court.

I don't want a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan (read Robert Byrd) in the United States Senate.

I also don't want anyone on the court or in Congress who has been a member of the American Communist Party, Black Panthers, SDS, John Birch Society, Southern Poverty Law Center or any other extremist group, unless they were very young and admit to being very stupid AND repudiate the extremist elements of those organizations.

Spare me the "they do good work sometimes" crap. They may be full of good intentions and have begun well, but today they are all hate groups, including the ACLU - which millions of Americans will agree is anti-semitic in its inner core.

Fritz said...

Simon,
That is an excellent example of cafeteria principles of a liberal; I will put out empty platitudes like blank check, Obama, "yes Roberts was well qualified but I didn't vote for him." Not to vote for Alito or Roberts was partisan and unprincipled. The President wins re-election, increases the Republican majority in the Senate and Democrats threaten filibuster? This is Democrats protesting democracy. Scalia confirmed unanimously in 1986, today would face a filibuster? Leftist anti-democracy liberals run the Democratic Party, that is who has changed.

Salamandyr said...

Well, as for me, she pretty much hit the bottom of the barrel when she poor-mouthed her Supreme Court compatriates in front of a foreign audience after the 2000 election. So that's one, very large, strike against her.

The times I see her in the news, she doesn't seem to rise above her partisanship. There doesn't seem to be a single other person on the Court with the same air of "I deserve to be here", as her. So, at least to my eyes, she is collossally arrogant and partisan--strike two and three.

Call it sexism if you will, but that's at least my reasoning for why she's my least favorite Justice.

Simon said...

Fritz,
I don't think that refusing to vote for Roberts and Alito was necessarily partisan. Obviously in some cases it was, but I think that if you're a person who has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, if you believe strongly that the Constitution must be interpreted in a particular fashion, and if you are faced with a nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States who is going to ascend to the bench and - in your sincerely-held view - do grave harm to the Constitution of the United States, by giving it too broad or too narrow a construction, then you must vote against that judge.

In my view, the problem doesn't lie in the liberals' vote against Alito, it lies in their view of the Constitution. They are deeply, deeply misguided in their views of that, but I can empathize with their situation. Suppose in three years, you have a nominee from President Biden, who says they are going to consider foreign sources of law in construing the Constitution, and that Article I basically hands the Congress plenary power. Should we defer to President Biden? That might be an option if you have not taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but that is not a defense that applies to any member of the Senate. If you think that the Constitution protects a right to abortion, and you have a judge who you think is absolutely going to vote to overrule Roe-Casey, it is hard to imagine how you can discharge your obligations without voting against that judge; likewise, if you think that the Constitution absolutely does NOT remove that question from the political sphere, and you have a judge who says he's going to uphold Roe-Casey, then I fail to see how you can vote for that judge consistently with your oath of office.

(Again, none of this is to say anything to the filibuster, which is a separate issue).

Al Queda can blow up our buildings and kill our citizens, but five misguided Supreme Court justices on a mission can do incalculable - and practically irreparable - harm to the Republic. I realize that sounds like hyperbole, but I believe it is literally true.

Theis said...

I think identity can sometimes serve as a multiplier when it comes to political differences. It's overly simplistic to say that Ginsberg won (lost?) purely because she is a woman, but the combination of screaming lefty and woman conjures up unpleasant associations with humorless angry femenists.

JazzBass said...

it's because she's a "commie pinko" and that doesn't sit well with the non-intelligentsia out here in red state land.

SteveR said...

Well I voted for Souter, but Ginsburg is the most identifiably liberal justice. But I knew we were going to get her after election night 1992. No one who voted for Clinton or Perot should have any antagonism for her and if you voted for Bush in 88 or 92 you should direct it to Justice Squishy.

Jeff said...

This former Boy Scout has one overriding reason to have voted for her: ACLU.

Kirby Olson said...

Isn't she the shortest one?

Fenrisulven said...

Sandra Day O'Connor

ChiLois said...

There was no sexism in my vote! Lois

Jim said...

I think that the problem is that she is perceived as a radical leftist, more based on her past activities, than what she has done on the court. She is particularly notorious in some circles for the business about lowering the age of consent, rather radically, even if it was not a serious suggestion.

Joe said...

I voted for Ginsburg because I genuinely think she's a terrible justice and that the supreme court would be measurably better without her.

Seven Machos said...

I think the sexism charge is absurd. Me, I'm a Republican Party Reptile, so in the running for least favorite for me would be Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer.

I can't tell Breyer and Souter apart. They are bland and conventional people who don't seem capable of groundbreaking, important thought. I wish they were not on the Court, but it's hard to hate them, or at least to hate one more than the other.

I don't like Stevens very much because he is very often conventionally liberal as well. However, he is just enough of an iconoclast soem of the time to not be most hated.

For me, Kennedy is the most detestable. He is too pragmatic, too much like a legislator, and (I suspect) too much into his "swing vote" status.

That leaves Ginsburg. I think a lot of people don't like her because she is quite far to the left. She was general counsel for the ACLU. She is the very model of a modern major left-liberal.

Kirby Olson said...

She is the shortest justice by far.

There has been studies that reveal short people is more of a factor in discrimination than race and gender.

The taller candidate has almost always won the presidential race. One of the last to topple this was McKinley, and look what happened to him.

Ginsberg isn't a midget but when you look at people on the court and the other justices loom above Ginsberg it just makes her look like an intellectual midget: hard to take seriously, etc.

Short people are very cute but it's hard to take them seriously. They always seem up to mischief. Perhaps this is why she's not trusted.

Balfegor said...

I can't tell Breyer and Souter apart. They are bland and conventional people who don't seem capable of groundbreaking, important thought.

That's sort of interesting, because of the two, my sense is that Breyer is by far the more intellectual. Witness, again, his attempt to provide some intellectual foundation for judicial liberalism in his recent book. I also (in my way) like Breyer for his dissent in Eldred v. Ashcroft (the case where the court upheld a copyright extension scheme adding 25 years to copyights from 1924) -- I may not agree 100% with the weight he assigns to the various parts of his framework there, but overall thrust of the argument is, I think, correct.

Gerry said...

My guess: she is perceived to be the most liberal. I considered voting for her for that very reason, but I went with Souter instead. Almost as liberal, but with significantly less gravitas.

Revenant said...

I voted against Ginsberg because she's been on the wrong side of pretty much every Supreme Court ruling I've disagreed with since she joined the court.

My favorite judge, by the way, was Roberts.

BJK said...

I agree with those who say that you can't put enough value on the 'ACLU' tag when discussing Ginsburg (who I did vote for, being a good Catholic and ex-scout).

Hard to be mad at Stevens, who's seemingly next on the way out (it will be interesting to see if he's willing to hang on for another two years).

I can't say that I read every (or even most) of the cases that are issued by the courts, but I can't think of one instance where I agreed with Justice Ginsburg on a split-decision case.

Toss in that she's a Clinton appointee, and that's more than enough reason for my vote.

Al Maviva said...

In all seriousness, it's her blatant admissions, sometimes within an opinion, that she just thinks the law should go a certain way regardless of black letters, and that's that. I actually don't mind Breyer because he is a lot more scholarly and textually based in his reasoning, and I can respect that as legal method though I may disagree with him at every point where a decision requires the judge to make a values input.

On the other hand, while I like Clarence Thomas, there are a lot of times I don't much like his jurisprudence. He is a radical in that every case is a case of first impression for him. It is a nice idea in some cases where the law needs trimming - the clarification of the commerce clause in the Lopez and Morrison cases was necessary - but a lot of times that's a bad interpretive method. Sometimes it's better that a set of legal problems be decided decisively, than correctly.

And as for Stevens... well, he's a doddering old fool. Hard to hate somebody who wasn't on top of the game to begin with, and now has lost about 20 steps. My favorite justice? Judge Dredd.

Cedarford said...

Ginsburg is at the bottom because she does not radiate warmth in public and she is a pure, partisan Leftist deeply tied to the ACLU.

Interestingly, she is on great terms with Scalia, who respects her and holds her in affection.

So the private Ginsburg may be a more likable and respected figure than us lay people know, and a person respected by those dealing with her professionally.

I don't see it as sexist...but admit looks might factor in. Warren Burger looked the part, but we know now he was not the formidable talent his appearance signified. Stevens maybe does get credit for looking like some kindly old bow-tied grand-dad.

Sexist? It was close on voting for Souter or Kennedy the Europhile dilettant behind Ginsburg. Though I confess that I thought that the much-lionized Sandra Day O'Connor (like Burger was in his time) - was ditsy and notorious in her later years for mucking up many decisions where she was the deciding vote with such poor reasoning, opacity, and narrow construal that she negated the whole ruling. What did the Arizona Oracle really mean? It can be read several ways depending on how the lower courts interpret her words! Well, O'Connor didn't come right out and say it, but she made SCOTUS punt.. Or - By restricting the scope so much, O'Connor made the ruling unique to one case and did not address the broader legal issue we thought the court would decide.. We know other Court members were exasperated with her - besides Scalia's dissents which were the equivalent of boiling her in oil, Reinquist, Stevens, and Kennedy also had "WTF?? is O'Connor saying???" opinions....

Brent - but today they are all hate groups, including the ACLU - which millions of Americans will agree is anti-semitic in its inner core.

ACLU anti-Semetic??? The ACLU executive has been run by secular Jews for over 40 years (Neier, Glasser, Stroessen), Jews dominate it's policy-making Boards and account for a lion's share of it's private funding and litigant attorney force.

Christians are the ACLU target, not religious Jews or Muslims who are assigned "protected minority status" in most ACLU deliberations. It is exceptionally rare for the ACLU to challenge aspects of Jewish or Muslim or Rasta or pedophile culture...The famous "march on Skokie" was a tactical mistake by the ACLU when they thought that the PR was more valuable in attracting new supporters on free speech principles than the possible loss offended Jewish ACLU members - but lose they did. Supposedly 1/3rd of their wealthy donors thought defending Nazis marching on fellow Jews was "going too far" and stopped contributing...something the ACLU said took 5 years to recover their donor base. But Skokie was a long time ago, and since then they've stayed with the secular progressive agenda.

TMink said...

I agree, the ACLU is not anti-semitic, but anti-Christian. It has been quite embracing of secular, socialist Jewish folks. I am not sure how they would deal with an observant Jew though.

But the roots of the organization are in Godless Communism. I use the phrase because it makes me giggle, but it is also factual. The Christian faith is anathema to the ACLU and vice-versa. We have different, nay opposing agendas.

Trey

w_boodle said...

Ginsburg is a woman? Who knew?

Steven said...

It's damned hard to think of a reason other than sexism.

C'mon, Ann, you're slipping. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and you couldn't come up with "antisemitism" off the top of your head?

John Althouse Cohen said...

I can remembering hearing a very liberal friend of mine refer to Ginsburg as an example of a standard judge. I don't think he's sexist. Ginsburg sticks out in your mind because she's the most different from the others, as you said in your update.

During the Roberts and Alito confirmation hearings, you constantly heard that Ginsburg was not revealing during her confirmation hearing even though her ACLU connection was well known. So people might be remembering that and holding it against her, especially if they're conservatives who, like most people, do not spend a lot of time thinking about the distinctions among Ginsburg, Breyer, Souter, and Stevens.

Troy said...
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Birkel said...

The other point is that perhaps liberals hate Clarence Thomas because he's black.

But I don't think that's necessarily correct. And I don't think it's sexism that gets people riled by Justice Ginsburg.

If anything Ginsburg is more reflexively and more profoundly liberal than any of her colleagues. And frankly her opinions aren't terribly enjoyable. Justice Souter, for example, comes across as less dogmatic than Ginsburg. And he doesn't strike me as the old person screaming at me to get off their lawn; Ginsburg does strike me as that type of person.

And that's the thing for liberals who want to hate a conservative. They might not agree with Justice Scalia but it's hard to ignore the fact that he's obviously brilliant and funny. Those are two hurdles much easier to clear with Justice Thomas -- even if inaccurately so.

Ann Althouse said...

I think people might be anti-Semitic toward Ginsburg, but she's not the only Jewish Justice. I really think singling her out is out of line.

Revenant said...

I really think singling her out is out of line.

Um, what redeeming qualities does she have? My perception of her is that she's result-driven and highly ideological; Stevens and Souter are a little more moderate, and Breyer is more procedural. There's not much there to like about Ginsburg.

We only got to pick one justice, so it doesn't matter if we think Breyer or Scalia or Kennedy is *almost* as bad as her. The poll should have asked us to rate all of the judges on a scale of 1-10 or something, and averaged the votes to determine the worst justice.

Steven said...

"Stephen Breyer" is not remotely as stereotypically Jewish a name. Postulating an anti-semite whose attention is brought to the poll by a blog, and who is not familiar with the biographies of the Justices, whom do you think is more likely to get voted a dislike?

Bruce Hayden said...

For me, I don't think it was sexism, but rather that she does come across, at least to me, as the most unabashedly liberal member of the Court. Breyer, at least, comes down occasionally on what I think is the right side of things. For example, just look at where each came down in Bush v. Gore. Of course, Ginsburg voted for Gore, and was upset because more of the Court did not. She comes across as a liberal activist, who wants to use the Court to change society, but just doesn't have enough votes.

Of course, working for the ACLU probably capped it for me. Despite my conseratism, I actually belonged for awhile. I quit out of disgust, when they started taking what appears to me to stands directly opposite their avowed mandate.

I don't think that the antagonism towards Ginsburg is sexual or religious, because there have been plenty of other Jewish Justices who have not garnered nearly this level of dislike. Ditto for women, with Justice O'Conner. I didn't like her 9 part balancing tests (ok, I am exagerating), but never thought of her as a bad Justice, just not a great one.

I do think though that at least some of the antagonism to Thomas on the left is that he has left the reservation, and is outspoken about it. They want to believe that there isn't a reservation, and Thomas has a tendancy to rub their faces in it. In other words, he brings out a serious case of cognitive dissonance with a lot of liberals. Not only is he not appreciative of their noble actions to help his people, but he distains such as hurting them more than helping.

Seven Machos said...

Which justice would it be "in line" to single out?

Simon said...

Bruce Hayden said...
"[J]ust look at where each came down in Bush v. Gore. Of course, Ginsburg voted for Gore, and was upset because more of the Court did not."

I really think it strains the limits of credibility to suggest Bush v. Gore as an example of how terrible the liberal bloc is, when that case was only carried by the willingness Scalia, Thomas and the Chief to sign onto a nonsense Kennedy opinion in order to head off a 4-3-2 catastrophe. The pragmatism is perhaps laudable, but I don't think anyone came out of that case looking all that great.

(Personally, I think that's why Scalia gets so defensive whenever he's asked about the case: he knows that the Kennedy opinion was a piece of shit, as he is reported to have called it, but signing onto it was the only way to head off catastrophe).

Brent said...

Bruce,

While I despise the ACLU today, I actually sent them money for membership about 10 years ago. I pridefully thought that I would be open-minded about the group.

The mailings were eye-opening. I attended one function at a home in my city. I was already a conservative, but wanted to give a fair hearing. What I found was an intolerant group of attorneys and wannabe celebritiy activists that spewed hatred for "Pat Robertson and his lemmings". AND, numerous Jewish politicians who were conservative-leaning (Ed Koch for one) were "traitors" to their Jewish roots and described in vulgar terms.

It was too above my head in the hate department. I left without anyone ever finding out anything about me.

To be fair, one meeting is not necessarily indicative of the main group. But nothing I have read about the ACLU since offers hope that they are any different from their anti-Judeo-Christian-moral-code stance of 10 years ago.

Anon Y. Mous said...

"It's damned hard to think of a reason other than sexism."

What's your basis for the accusation? Is it that she's the only woman, plus she's the least popular justice in that one poll, so the only explanation you can even think of is sexism by those polled? Seems pretty weak.

Ken said...

I voted for Stevens, Ginsberg would have been second choice. She is the second most activist liberal on the court. I don't know, maybe people believe Stevens is dead. He at least appears to be. She only appears to be asleep. Douter is a nonentity. It would be like voting againstt a dial tone.

Mellow-Drama said...

I think most people who commented probably don't know that much about the Court. If they did, they'd vote for Kennedy, for his "sweet mysteries of life" crap, as another Justice put it. Right or left, Kennedy is in the middle and seems to lack a clear judicial philosophy, so he ought to be the winner. It's hands-down Sandra Day O'Connor if she were still on the bench.

Brian said...

She looks like Ruth Buzzy, but that's not important right now.

She did display a kind of repulsive elitism and disrespect for a co-equal branch of government when she referred to former majority leader of the House Tom Delay:

"Mr. DeLay is not a lawyer but, I am told, an exterminator by profession."

Yeah Ruth, I guess those who are - unlike you - elected by the people should have no voice in government.

Ginsberg, who is a lawyer, thinks it's alright for those with law degrees to use extra-constitutional mandates to order others around, which makes her, to my way of thinking, an inferior character.