Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed concern over the increasing influence of politics on the Supreme Court in a recent interview with USA Today.
"What I care most about I think most of my colleagues do, too," the liberal leaning justice explained, "is that we want this institution to maintain the position that it has had in this system, where it is not considered a political branch of government."
While Ginsburg wouldn't say if her worries about the court's politicization pertained to the actions of any of her colleagues specifically, she did point to the growing divisiveness of the judicial nomination process as evidence that political leanings were working their way into the system.
From USA Today:
"It will take a real statesman to blow the whistle" to stop the pattern, she said. Ginsburg, who was nominated by President Clinton in 1993, was approved on a 96-3 vote. She said she doubted she would enjoy the same bipartisan support today.
Ginsburg went on to describe a particular case in which the court ruled -- 5-4, along ideological lines -- to overthrow a $14 million judgment granted to a former death row inmate convicted of murder after New Orleans prosecutors withheld evidence that might have proven his innocence.
USA Today relays her comments:
"It was an instance of extreme injustice. I thought that the court was not just wrong but egregiously so," she said. She said she decided not simply to let the written statement speak for itself, as is the usual practice, to bring attention to a criminal justice system that "had misfired."
"I was doing it to influence my colleagues and (lower court) judges who could stop this kind of thing," she said of prosecutors' concealing exculpatory evidence.
While Ginsburg did voice apprehension about polarization in the Supreme Court, she also appeared somewhat optimistic.
"There are some 5-4 decisions this term that were not the usual" breakdown, she told USA Today. "Probably the decision that most annoyed the home crowd that Tony Kennedy belongs to is that California (prison) decision."
In that case, she joined fellow liberal justices Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and the more conservative Justice Kennedy in ruling that the Golden State must shed some 33,000 inmates to deal with the issue of overcrowding in its prisons.