U.S. News ' Borger falsely compared Roberts, Ginsburg nominations


In a column for the August 8 edition of U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Gloria Borger falsely claimed that at the time of her 1993 nomination to the Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "appeared as liberal" as current Supreme Court nominee Judge John G. Roberts Jr. does conservative. In fact, during her 13 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Ginsburg established a largely moderate judicial record, often voting with conservative judges Robert H. Bork, Kenneth W. Starr and Laurence H. Silberman.

In her column, Borger counseled Democrats to "[f]ind a smart way to lose" with regard to the Roberts nomination. Borger discouraged filibusters or intensive scrutiny of documents from Roberts's past, instead suggesting that Democrats treat the nomination similarly to how she claimed Republicans treated Ginsburg in 1993:

Here's the question: What's the difference between the nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by President Bill Clinton and the nomination of Judge Roberts by President Bush? Answer: nothing. Ginsburg appeared as liberal as Roberts does conservative, yet she was approved 96 to 3. The GOP decided it would not be a party of useless litmus tests or panderers to special interests. And in the next election, Republicans made it clear she would not have been their choice. That is, after all, what elections are about.

But Ginsburg's confirmation was not merely a case of Republicans casting partisanship aside, as Media Matters for America documented; she was viewed largely as a centrist. As The Daily Howler weblog noted, a June 15, 1993, Washington Post article reported that Ginsburg had "straddled the liberal-conservative divide of the D.C. Court of Appeals for the last 13 years" and that her "pragmatic, non-ideological approach" would most likely put her in league with such "centrist-conservatives" as Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and David H. Souter. The Post also cited a 1987 study of the appeals court that found Ginsburg voted more consistently with Republican-appointed judges such as Starr and Silberman.

A June 27, 1993, New York Times article described Ginsburg's judicial style as "resolutely centrist" and highlighted details from a Legal Times study that noted "in 1987 cases that produced a division on the court, she voted with Judge Robert H. Bork 85 percent of the time."

Additionally, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time of Ginsburg's nomination, wrote in his autobiography, Square Peg: Confessions of a Citizen Senator (Basic Books, 2002), that Clinton nominated Ginsburg at Hatch's suggestion.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments, The Judiciary
Supreme Court Nominations
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