Notorious but Cancer-Free RBG Returns
The ghoulish ritual of wielding the health and mortality of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg around as a political cudgel can be suspended, at least for now.
In an interview late Tuesday, Ginsburg talked about the rules for getting through the courthouse doors. She would not discuss specifics of any pending case and sidestepped questions about strategy or the ideological stakes on this divided court.
She said that procedural concerns can stop judges from intervening prematurely but noted that procedural safeguards can also ensure that worthy litigants are not kept out of the courthouse.
“It’s just instinctive to me,” she said. “Procedure is supposed to serve the people that law exists to serve.”
Last year at this time, Ginsburg was recovering from lung cancer surgery and missed several weeks at the court. She finished out the term in June.
Soon after, she discovered a cancerous tumor on her pancreas, which was treated in August, and she resumed her active schedule.
Sounding energized and speaking animatedly, she told CNN on Tuesday that her year was off to a fine start: “I’m cancer free. That’s good.”
The justices are currently negotiating in their chambers how far to go in cases that have been argued and beginning next week will start a new round of oral arguments. Some of the fresh dilemmas will similarly raise procedural matters of who can sue and when, as well as how far the justices should run with a narrow lower court ruling.
Along with issues of immigration, reproduction rights and LGBTQ protections, the justices plan to review three disputes over President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records.
Ginsburg on Tuesday did not discuss specifics of any case before the justices and sidestepped questions about any new interest in procedure arising from the ideological stakes on the divided court. The subject, she said, has intrigued her since her law school days.
As a fire crackled in her chambers, Ginsburg, dressed in red slacks and a tan jacket, elaborated on her fascination. She read from a sheet of paper she brought to the interview containing a “favorite quote: from the 1943 case of McNabb v. US.
“The history of liberty,” wrote Justice Felix Frankfurter, “has largely been the history of observance of procedural safeguards.”