Once again, Donald Trump finds himself at the center of a row, this time with a member of the US Supreme Court. The Republican presidential hopeful has demanded Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg resign, calling her “a disgrace” to the court after she criticized his campaign in several interviews.
Ginsburg, one of the most progressive justices on the Supreme Court, described Trump as “a faker” to CNN.
“He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment,” she said, noting “the press seems to be very gentle with him,” and that unlike most presidential candidates he has not released his income tax returns during the primary race.
The Republican Party hopes Trump will win in November and appoint a judge who will maintain the conservative leanings of the court
Ginsburg has never shied away from making her opinions known in interviews and conferences, but it is rare for a Supreme Court justice to comment on the presidential race. Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, accused Ginsburg of bias, saying: “I find it very peculiar, and I think it's out of her realm.”
Responding to the furore on his Twitter profile on Tuesday night, Trump said simply: “Resign” following up on comments suggesting that Ginsburg was no longer coherent, saying: “Her mind is shot.” The Republican candidate then told The New York Times that the judge’s remarks were “highly inappropriate”, adding: “I think it’s a disgrace to the court, and I think she should apologize to the court” and then saying: “I would hope that she would get off the court as soon as possible.”
Over the weekend, Ginsburg told the Associated Press she did not want to contemplate the possibility that Trump might become president and much less the consequences his victory would have on the Supreme Court. “But if it should be, then everything is up for grabs,” she added.
Instead of walking back her statements, she went even further in an interview with The New York Times saying: “I can’t imagine what the country would be like with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be, I don’t even want to contemplate that.” Ginsburg was alluding to an issue that has become especially relevant in this presidential campaign: who will replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia?
Since Scalia’s death in February, the remaining eight justices have handed down several four-to-four decisions, thus failing to provide resolutions on constitutional issues such as Obama’s executive orders on immigration. Scalia’s vacancy remains open because the Republican majority in both houses of Congress and their presidential candidate are refusing to hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s pick for the bench.
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The Republican Party hopes Trump will win in November and appoint a judge who will maintain the conservative leanings of the court. And should Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton win, she may have the opportunity to name progressives judges to fill Scalia’s seat and replace Ginsburg, who, at 83 years old, may chose to retire during the next presidential term.
Supreme Court justices are not prevented from expressing their opinions to the media. Still, attorneys who argue before the court may ask a judge to recuse herself if they believe there is a conflict of interest. Ginsburg’s remarks would become an issue if the court were to rule on a case involving the real estate mogul-turned-presidential candidate.
In May, Trump also questioned the impartiality of a federal judge of Mexican background who is overseeing a fraud lawsuit against Trump University.
English version by Dyane Jean-François.