Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg walks into a room in the Supreme Court building, where the other justices are waiting to have lunch together. She brings in a birthday cake – baked from scratch by her husband, Georgetown Law professor Martin Ginsburg.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. lifts a glass and gives a toast in honor of the birthday boy, Justice Stephen Breyer.
And who does the honor of singing Happy Birthday? None other than Justice Antonin Scalia, who is known not only for his strict constructionist legal philosophy and hit and humor on the bench, but also his tenor pipes.
That’s a peek at the personal side of being on the Supreme Court – brought to you courtesy of Justice Ginsburg.
Speaking at Princeton University about the more human side of the Court yesterday, Ginsburg reiterated that even justices who battle on the bench, come together when the cases are put away. For example, she and Justice Scalia – who often disagree on the bench – not only have dinner and go to the opera together. They also check up on each other.
During the time in 2000 when the Court was deliberating the Bush v Gore case, Ginsburg recalled:
“You can imagine how tense things were. … Everyone was exhausted.” One night at 9 p.m. she got a call from Scalia. “He said, ‘Ruth, what are you doing still at the court? Go home and take a bath.’ I treasure the relationship we have, though we disagree on many issues.”
Ginsburg also gave her thoughts on Roe v Wade. Although she is a staunch supporter of abortion rights, she said Roe may have gone too far by instantly broadening abortion law in all 50 states than allowing state law on the issue to develop more organically. That more has served to galvanize pro life advocates and hamstring state legislatures.
“It would have been easy for the Supreme Court to say that the extreme cases are unconstitutional” without such a broad ruling, Ginsburg said, as quoted in The Daily Princetonian. “I never questioned the judgment that it has to be a woman’s choice, but the court should not have done it all.”
Photo: Princeton University, Office of Communications, Brian Wilson