Democrats & Liberals Archives

Roberts vs. Ginsburg

The chances of John Roberts becoming a Justice of the Supreme Court is about 99%. Bush chose shrewdly and the Republicans are all loudly and in unison proclaiming Roberts’ virtues. Since 55% of the senators are Republicans, all they need do is stick together and Roberts will be confirmed. However, as a Democrat, I would like to demonstrate a few differences between a justice you get from a Republican like George W. Bush (Roberts) with a justice you get from a Democrat like Bill Clinton (Ruth Bader Ginsurg).

President George W. Bush has said many times that he would choose a judicial candidate like Justice Scalia. Republicans are running around insisting that Roberts is not like Scalia. But practically all of them admit that Roberts would move the Court to the right of where O'Connor was. Of course, Ginsburg is to the left of O'Connor.

The terms "left" and "right" have been so overused they have lost much of their meaning. So, to point out differences between Roberts and Ginsburg, let's see what these two have actually done (excluding abortion and other religiously-related matters):

  • CORPORATE VS. CIVIL RIGHTS - Roberts was a corporate lawyer at Hogan & Hartson, the largest law firm based in D.C., where he was paid more than $1 million in 2003. Ginsburg was a civil rights lawyer serving as the ACLU’s General Counsel from 1973–1980, and on the National Board of Directors from 1974–1980; I doubt that she earned anywhere near $1 million in yearly pay.

  • EMPLOYER VS. EMPLOYEES - Roberts represented employers; Ginsburg represented employees. Roberts represented Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc., arguing in the Supreme Court that a worker with carpal tunnel syndrome is not disabled and is not entitled to accommodation at work under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Ginsburg acted in favor of employees when she dissented from the Court majority that ruled that public agencies can control when employee compensatory time is used. She said:

    "In my judgment, the fact that no employer may lawfully make any use of 'comp time' without a prior agreement with the affected employees is of critical importance."

  • BUSINESS VS. ENVIRONMENT - Roberts acts for business; Ginsburg acts for a healthy environment. Roberts submitted an amicus brief on behalf of mining companies that extract coal by blasting the tops off of mountains and depositing the debris in nearby valleys and streams, thus ruining the environment. Ginsburg, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that the EPA may act to block construction of a new major pollutant-emitting facility in Alaska

  • ELITE VS. ORDINARY CITIZENS - Roberts worked with the elite; Ginsburg worked with all kinds of citizens. Roberts thought that Vice-President Cheney should be allowed to keep the proceedings of his Energy Task Force secret as a matter of right. Ginsburg ruled that the use of race in the University of Michigan Law School's admissions decisions is allowed
There are many other actions and decisions made by both. But you will find that usually Roberts sides with elites and businesses while Ginsburg sides with employees and ordinary people - you and me.

Unfortunately, Roberts will be confirmed and the Court will shift further toward the positions of Big Business and the elites. If you would like a Supreme Court justice that wants justice for all of us and not only for the privileged few, there is only one way to achieve this:

You must vote for Democratic senators.
Posted by Paul Siegel at July 25, 2005 6:05 PM