Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often united with other liberals on the U.S. Supreme Court to impose policies that are not supported by the Constitution.
For example, she was part of a 5-4 majority that in 2005 cited "evolving standards of decency" and "international opinion" in ruling that people who commit murder before they turn 18 may not be executed. No such prohibition exists in the Constitution.
But now, Ginsburg has displayed open contempt for the U.S. Constitution -- in front of a foreign audience. In an interview with an Egyptian TV station, she urged that nation -- which threw off the rule of dictator Hosni Mubarak but faces a rising threat of radical Islam -- not to consider the U.S. Constitution as a model for crafting a constitution.
Now, it should be said that cultural and other differences might make it impractical for Egypt or any country to embrace every facet of the U.S. Constitution. For instance, we're not sure that the only reasonable way of, say, replacing a president who becomes incapacitated is the method spelled out in the 25th Amendment.
But mere cultural differences were not the basis of Ginsburg's urging Egypt to reject the U.S. constitutional model. Rather, she considers our Constitution out of date, and suggested a lack of input from women weakened it, ABC News reported.
She said Egypt should be "aided by all Constitution-writing that has gone on since the end of World War II. ... I would not look to the U.S. Constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the Constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. ... It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the U.S. Constitution."
It is true, of course, that our Constitution as originally written did not forbid slavery. But the strength of our Constitution, which Ginsburg seems not to appreciate fully, is that it provided the means of amendment. As a result of that process, men and women may no longer be enslaved, and women and minorities may vote and hold office.
The South African Constitution that Ginsburg prefers plainly has not led to a peaceful nation. South Africa today has one of the world's worst homicide rates. Whatever the intentions of that nation's constitution, it has not created the stability we enjoy thanks to our own Constitution.
It is regrettable that a Supreme Court justice misses the fundamental wisdom of the U.S. Constitution.
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