01:39 - Source: CNN
Ginsburg: I regret my Trump remarks

Story highlights

Supreme Court biographer Biskupic says Ginsburg recognizes her blunder in stepping into the political arena

Ginsburg did not apologize to Trump for her comments, including calling him a 'faker'

CNN —  

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s public regret Thursday for her criticism of Donald Trump appears to derive from an effort to extract herself from the heat of the presidential election just as it is likely to get hotter with the upcoming Republican convention.

She plainly came to realize her mistake in revealing her anti-Trump sentiment and feeding the turmoil of this election year.

In her brief statement, Ginsburg stressed the importance of judges avoiding political commentary. She did not apologize to Trump. She may still believe what she said, but she also knows she blundered in saying it.

When I spoke to Justice Ginsburg in her chambers Monday, she brushed away initial detractors who said she might have crossed the line in earlier revealing how she shuddered at the idea of a Trump presidency. She had quipped to the New York Times about moving to New Zealand if he won.

In our interview, she repeated that line and even elaborated on her concerns: “He is a faker… (who) really has an ego …. How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns?”

In the days since our conversation, the criticism of Ginsburg, 83, the senior liberal on the court, grew into a torrent, from Republican partisans as well as liberals who sympathize with her legal views.

Critics said she violated a basic tenet of judiciary impartiality and questioned whether she would have to recuse herself from any case involving Trump. The candidate himself called on her to resign from the high court, declaring on Twitter, “Her mind is shot.”

On the eve of the Republican convention, it was clear that Trump enthusiasts, as well as Republican officials lukewarm to his candidacy, were united in their denouncement of Ginsburg.

When the justice realized she had erred, she could have said nothing more. But with the continuing drumbeat of denouncements and reality that her remarks were fueling the run-up to the convention, staying silent was not the option she chose.

“On reflection,” she said in Thursday’s statement, “my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them. Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.”

Some people have asked whether her colleagues on the bench, including Chief Justice John Roberts, who has strongly asserted that the court is above politics, had asked her to express regret.

I do not believe they did, and I have no indication that she reached out to her fellow justices. I think Thursday’s move was as much Ginsburg’s as the original remarks.