Lawmakers challenge Ginsburg

13 Republicans write letter questioning justice's association with NOW

March 19, 2004|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - Thirteen Republican members of Congress have asked Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to withdraw from all future cases having to do with abortion because of her affiliation with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund.

The House lawmakers said in a letter to the liberal justice yesterday that they were concerned about her lending her name and presence to the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Distinguished Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the defense fund, because the fund often files legal briefs in cases before the Supreme Court.

"As legislators, we believe your actions call into question your ability to rule with impartiality on any case involving abortion," the 13 lawmakers wrote her.

Ginsburg, in a speech last week, defended her relationship with the legal defense fund and said Supreme Court justices are reluctant to recuse themselves in individual cases because that could lead to tie votes in the Supreme Court.

Similarly, some Democratic members of Congress have urged conservative Justice Antonin Scalia to step aside in deciding a case involving Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force because Cheney and Scalia recently shared a hunting trip in Louisiana.

Yesterday, Scalia declined to recuse himself.

However, Democrats have raised no objections to Ginsburg's relationship with the pro-choice legal defense fund, and Republicans have raised no objections to Scalia participating in the Cheney case.

The 13 House Republicans who wrote Ginsburg are Joseph R. Pitts of Pennsylvania, Dave Weldon of Florida, Walter B. Jones Jr. and Sue Myrick of North Carolina, Kevin Brady of Texas, Barbara Cubin of Wyoming, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Todd Akin of Missouri, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Pence of Indiana, Roscoe G. Bartlett of Maryland, Steve King of Iowa and Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey.

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