MUCH attention is being paid to Judge Ruth Bader...

Salmagundi

June 21, 1993

MUCH attention is being paid to Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg's March 9 speech on Roe vs. Wade, delivered at New York University School of Law. What she said about abortion and the Constitution is what has attracted attention.

She said something else interesting at NYU that may come back to haunt her on the Supreme Court. She criticized what she said was the practice of judges writing dissents that she regarded as offensive and insulting to the judges' whose opinions they disagreed with. This interferes with collegiality, she said.

She named no names but she quoted quotes -- and she footnoted them. A reporter for Legal Times has figured out who she meant.

She meant several of her colleagues on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit -- and Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, Harry Blackmun and Anthony Kennedy. Justice Scalia, the court's most colorful writer and independent thinker, came in for the most criticism. Judge Ginsburg cited six of his dissents as offensive.

She is, herself, pretty good at the wicked criticism, by the way, as Legal Times noted. She cited as an example of un-collegial writing this from a dissent by the chief judge of her court, Abner Mikva: "My colleagues seek refuge in a theory as novel as it is questionable."

Judge Ginsburg said of that, "That spicy statement, by the way, opposed an en banc opinion in which all judges concurred, except for the lone dissenter."

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