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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Enough RBG

Update:  Irin Carmon on Chris Hayes etc. has noted RBG is usually very restrained and doesn't directly target people like this (see, e.g., Scalia), so her doing this shows how bad she thinks Trump is.  
All the same, RBG has now said her remarks were "ill-advised" and that judges "should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future, I will be more circumspect."  Appreciated.

There have been various accounts, various people critical, about RBG's public remarks about Trump.  See, e.g., here.

The support of RBG as if she's just being honest is depressing. [As noted here, what she said is not particularly profound at all. Compare, e.g., certain other comments like saying abortion rights is a class issue.] The latest (no comments) post also imho misses the point. Sure justices have opinions. And, the business about Brandeis suggesting how to formulate legislation? Justices, often in dissent, talk about that sort of thing repeatedly -- maybe the law is this, but just to let you know, this might work. In the Pentagon Papers case, one or more justices explained how the press might be targeted.  They might also do this behind the scenes.

But, the difference here is RBG is on the record expressing the opinions in a way that in effect is politicking. That's not what judges are supposed to do. They have views. They want certain people to win at the ballot box. But, we don't want them to politick. It's not what judges are supposed to do and it suggests a problem with judges running for office. And, yes, doing that is a bit different than merely having views or sharing them behind the scenes with friends and such. It isn't all the same. Plus, maybe this is naive, I think it affects in some fashion how they do their jobs.  If "appearance of impropriety" isn't a thing, anyways, why have it?

The appearance of impropriety here isn't just fakery. She did cross a line. Some excuse her because hey it's Trump. But, the general "rules" there can apply open-ended.  Some think people like Obama or Clinton are so horrible that "it's different." It's variable. And, her comments don't help much there. If anything, it brings her down a bit. They make people just question her (and her "side") and neutrality overall is questioned. Now, when someone like Trump (or someone not as blatant) crosses the line, we will get a "you too" and "well she's biased, kinda has a point." I realize it isn't the end of the word. She isn't just a "partisan hack" now. Some for or against her will say that. But, it means something. It is depressing.

She is also making somewhat questionable remarks about other subjects as well, including her apparent desire to overturn Heller at the first opportunity.  At least, and as discussed there, there is some curious editing in articles going on, that seems to be the suggestion.  And, it isn't even clear that is useful -- the ruling leaves open enough regulation that should cover most of what is likely to pass anyhow.  I think RBG (Breyer seems to have been more temperate in his remarks as he promotes his books and such) has been too overexposed and needs to tone it down.

But, why should she give a f, really? Her husband dead, she is the "Notorious RBG" in her 80s and it looks like there is a decent shot at five moderate votes are the Supreme Court.  I am not upset she decided not to retire for strategic reasons and now think it was a safe bet.  (Knock on wood; I didn't think Bush would win, but this would be more of a shock.)  Her comments on Trump cross a line, one some liberals out there would find quite distasteful if Clarence Thomas did it.  Enough RBG.

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