Ginsburg regrets partisan nature of Supreme Court selection process

By Kimberly Atkins

The Daily Record Newswire

BOSTON, MA -- There was a time where Supreme Court nominees were overwhelmingly supported by the Senate.

But the last three Supreme Court justices were confirmed with votes that largely fell long partisan lines, save a few exceptions.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg likes the old way better.

''With ABA encouragement, may the U.S. Senate some day return to the collegial, bipartisan spirit that Justice [Stephen] Breyer and I had the good fortune to experience,'' Ginsburg told an applauding audience during an address to the American Bar Association House of Delegates this week.

Ginsburg, who received the ABA Medal - the association's highest honor - at the event in San Francisco, said she was concerned about partisan opposition when she was first nominated to the D.C. Circuit in 1980.

''It was late in (President Jimmy) Carter's term, and not clear that any more of his judicial nominees would get through,'' Ginsburg explained.

''And there was more than a little concern that opposition might be spurred by my affiliation with the American Civil Liberties Union as one of the union's general counsel and co-founder of its Women's Rights Project.''

But she received the ABA's highest rating - ''well qualified'' - buoying her nomination, she said.

''And that rating made me invulnerable to attack as unfit for the appointment,'' Ginsburg said.

When she was nominated by President Clinton to the Supreme Court 13 years later, ''no senator so much as mentioned my ACLU connection'' during the confirmation hearings, Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg was confirmed with a Senate vote of 96-3. Breyer was confirmed by a vote of 87-9.

By contrast, Justice Elena Kagan was confirmed last week with a 63-37 vote with only five GOP senators backing her, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed last year by a vote of 68-31 with eight Republican backers, and Justice Samuel Alito's 2006 Senate confirmation vote was 58-42, with four Democrats voting in his favor.

Each received a ''well qualified'' rating from the ABA

Published: Mon, Aug 23, 2010


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