Justice Ginsburg praises media, role of free press

Sam Hananel
Associated Press

Washington — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is praising the media at a time when the Trump administration has accused reporters of being dishonest and delivering “fake news.”

Ginsburg told the BBC’s “Newsnight” program in an interview Thursday that she reads The Washington Post and The New York Times every day, and that “reporters are trying to tell the public the truth.”

The 83-year-old justice did not comment directly on President Donald Trump, but said she was encouraged by the massive women’s march in Washington, the day after his inauguration Jan. 20, when demonstrators protested his election victory.

“I’ve never seen such a demonstration, both the numbers and the rapport of the people in that crowd,” she said. “There was no violence, it was orderly. So yes, we are not experiencing the best times, but there is reason to hope that we will see a better day.”

Asked to elaborate on those remarks during an appearance at George Washington University, Ginsburg responded with a twist on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.

“I meant that we are not as mindful of what makes America great,” Ginsburg said. One example is “the right to speak one’s mind.” Another, she said, is “the idea of our nation being receptive to all people, welcoming of all people.” That includes “the notion that in our nation we are many and yet we are one.”

Ginsburg said that sentiment is reflected in the words inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, which reads: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

She did not mention Trump’s controversial order temporarily banning all entry into the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations. The order sparked protests and was blocked in the courts. The White House says Trump will unveil a new order next week.

Ginsburg, who leads the high court’s liberal wing, was openly critical of Trump in media interviews before his election. She later said she regretted her “ill-advised” comments in which she dismissed Trump as a “faker” who “really has an ego.”

Ginsburg told the BBC she is optimistic about the future and America’s ability to change direction.

“When the pendulum swings too far in one direction it will go back,” she said. “Some terrible things have happened in the United States, but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things.”

She noted the example of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, calling it a “dreadful mistake.”

At her university appearance, Ginsburg had some kind words about Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Ginsburg said she got to know Gorsuch during a trip to England a few years ago to meet with judges there.

“I’ve worked with him and I think he’s very easy to get along with,” she said. “He writes very well.”