POLITICS
09/13/2018 12:48 am ET

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Slams Senate Hearings As A 'Highly Partisan Show'

Asked to compare Brett Kavanaugh's hearings to her own, the justice said: "The way it was was right. The way it is is wrong."
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has a problem with the way this Congress handles Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

The 85-year-old justice was asked Wednesday how the hearings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh compared with her own during an event at George Washington University Law School.

President Bill Clinton nominated Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in June 1993, and the U.S. Senate voted 96-3 to confirm her two months later.

“The way it was was right. The way it is is wrong,” Ginsburg said.

During Kavanaugh’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrats have pushed back hard against President Donald Trump’s nominee in an attempt to stop the Supreme Court from leaning even further to the conservative right. Democrats are worried about how Kavanaugh, who would replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, would rule on issues relating to the investigation into Trump’s campaign and Russian interference in the U.S. election. Also a point of contention: Democrats warn that Kavanaugh may threaten the Roe v. Wade ruling that established the right to abortion.

Adding to the drama surrounding the hearing, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) released Kavanaugh’s previously confidential emails on the third day, giving Democrats even more fuel to scrutinize the judge.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh faced a firestorm of questions from Democrats during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judicia
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images
Judge Brett Kavanaugh faced a firestorm of questions from Democrats during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ginsburg said Wednesday that the “atmosphere” surrounding Supreme Court hearings were “truly bipartisan” when she was nominated in 1993, noting that she won the votes of nearly all the Republican senators despite her work with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Ginsburg also pointed out that all the Democrats in the Senate in 1986 voted to confirm Justice Antonin Scalia, who was famous for his conservatism.

“Think of Justice Scalia, who’s certainly a known character. The vote was unanimous,” Ginsburg said.

“That’s the way it should be, instead of what it’s become, which is a highly partisan show. The Republicans move in lockstep, and so do the Democrats. I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it go back.”

This isn’t the first time Ginsburg has criticized divisiveness in politics.

In April, the Justice, again noting her 96-3 Senate confirmation vote, said that members of Congress are lacking camaraderie.

“You don’t see that kind of friendship existing in Congress anymore,” she said at a Duke University event. “You might recall that when I was nominated by President Clinton, the vote was 96-3. It’s not that way anymore.”

Ginsburg, who reportedly is committed to a serious workout regimen, also took some time Wednesday to flex a little muscle on her fellow Supreme Court justices.

Asked who on the court could do more pushups than her, Ginsburg replied, “Maybe Justice Neil Gorsuch,” her 51-year-old colleague, who she said rides his bike to work every day.

Ginsburg also added Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, 63, to the list: “I think our chief is also a possibility,” she said.

Watch Ginsburg’s entire talk at George Washington University here.

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