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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg likes to document her judicial activism, and she will always have to explain why her decisions were in line with one’s personal values. She sees herself as a constitutional scholar and academic, but to Ginsburg, the justices are somewhat like the wind blows through a carpet, toward — and to — the next project. That same comment made by Justice Antonin Scalia summed up why oral arguments have been so striking: Justices are inherently fixed, except when the majority happens to agree.
But those who have worked alongside Ginsburg say she has a clear idea of how these decisions are to be made. And in their own way, those decisions are her signature and represent her place on the court. And as they work to parse the decision behind her reasoning, Ginsburg doesn’t just work for the justices, she works for her base. It’s clear she feels it is important to live up to those standards.Last month, Ball State University’s Marshall School of Law hosted a panel with her to talk about “how she thinks,” and among the questions asked was “What’s in it for you,” and whether it was worth the sacrifice, or possibility of feelings, for a life of honor and service?
Her answer was obvious: Yes. She believes the country appreciates she is willing to sacrifice for the betterment of society, and her liberal ideology is what allows for that. But it’s an informed decision, not a judgement that takes into account the political affiliations of the judges and their colleagues.
“I feel like I can do what I can to serve my country, and what I can do to serve the Constitution,” she said.
Without doubting her feelings, she never mentioned any of those considerations when advocating her reason for existing in the court. Ginsburg feels her freedom to do so in keeping with her personal values, but not seeking a parallel office at the court. “I feel like I can do what I can to serve my country, and what I can do to serve the Constitution,” she said.
And as judges who have followed her for years, many of those who know her say there is nothing more unique about her than her conviction to do what she knows best for the good of the country.
“She’s not afraid to set herself apart from the pack,” former assistant solicitor general Ben Silverman told the group. Silverman said Ginsburg strikes a balance between sounding political and even “tongue-in-cheek” with her decisions.