Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Return To The Rule Of Law
Our strength lies in the traditions
that have bound us to a government by rule of law.
Justice Ginsburg: Good morning. I wanted to be with you on this day of all days when the fragile structure known as democracy is set to once again flex its muscles. Though it is fragile and can be derailed, its strength lies in the traditions that have bound us to a government by rule of law, and those traditions are very strong indeed. Anything else will send us down the road to exploitation and dictatorship as has been so powerfully demonstrated by recent events.
This is why, I would like to suggest, that those in the Congress whose power base has been funded by lies and deceptions suddenly seem to have woken up to the fact that any power base at all for democratically elected leaders rests instead on the fragile arms of a government of laws. Once that is gone, any little slice of the pie that they thought they may have gained by favoritism and trickery will be gobbled up by stronger leaders with one goal and one goal only and that it the perpetuation of their own power at the easily paid price of the sacrifice of any challenge to their authority.
We have had a scare. It is my hope that this awakening will carry over into a re-orientation so that some will now recognize the long term benefits of hard fought democratic battles as opposed to government by fiat, lies, and loyalty tests. I am giving thanks for the picture of that mob scaling the walls of the Capitol. Nothing could be more illustrative of what we – and those very lawmakers who found themselves in peril, some at the hands of their supposed supporters – have to lose.
Going forward, there will be many such battles, but that image will prevail in the minds of at least some of those who have been at the very epicenter of the beginning of a failed government. Hopefully their resolve has been strengthened by that experience. If so, we may find help from some unexpected quarters in the new Congress.
There will be a realignment. No longer will we have a true two-party system but one whereby a third faction will be able to cast their lot with one side or another and therefore create the deciding votes. I hope and believe that that deciding faction will throw their weight on the side of government by law rather than the alternative. If nothing else, self-preservation will strengthen their resolve. Being taken down by a mob is not a desirable fate.
It will not be easy, but these unlikely - and no doubt reluctant - warriors for democracy will find support, or opposition if they stray from their mission, in a Supreme Court designed by the recent president to rubber stamp the actions of the Executive Branch but which refused that directive.
More than one president has been disappointed in his appointees because, at its core, the High Court is intrinsically an educational organization. We gather, we discuss, we do not hound one another, and we do not disparage views not in line with our own. We aim instead to persuade. And though there are one or two whose ears may be closed to rational argument, the vast majority, and in that I would include the recent appointees, are supporters of the rule of law.
Ideologues they may be, but their founding biases are based on their reading of the Constitution, and, as recent decisions have indicated, nowhere in that document does it say that it is ok to spread lies and deception and thereby claim, on the basis of same, that the results of a well-run election are false.
Principles based on legal rules of evidence will shore up the deficits and misconceptions currently rampant in our society, and adherence to these will give us the time to restructure our laws so that truth-based evidence is the foundation of any public action.
It will not be easy. Public support will be critical, for there will be a vast resistance by those whose numbers would not allow them to win in a fair fight. But now this is a fair fight. We now have three branches of government who will re-commit our government to the basic premise on which all democracies are founded: the rule of law for the benefit of all applied without bias to each and every citizen.
I am encouraged and hope that the energy of today’s reset will encourage each and every one of you also so that you are inspired to participate in bringing our government back to its avowed purpose, the rule of law, this time more honestly implemented.
I will be taking a breather from this work so that I can attend to the more personal matters of my transition. I leave matters in your capable hands, but, rest assured that I am here if needed.
January 20, 2021