Judge Ruth Ginsburg Named to High Court

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By Joan Biskupic
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 15, 1993

If Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes a Supreme Court justice, the court will belong to the center.

Ginsburg, 60, has straddled the liberal-conservative divide of the D.C. Court of Appeals for the last 13 years. And while she would come to the court with more "liberal" leanings than retiring Justice Byron R. White, her record is a far cry from the traditional activism of retired Justice William J. Brennan Jr. and the late Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Ginsburg has a pragmatic, non-ideological approach that likely would put her most in league with Justices David H. Souter and Sandra Day O'Connor. Those centrist-conservatives, joined on occasion by Anthony M. Kennedy and John Paul Stevens, have controlled the outcome of some of the most fractious cases in recent terms.

On difficult social concerns, such as abortion, the justices at the ideological extremes -- Justices Antonin Scalia (who would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion) and Justice Harry A. Blackmun (who wrote Roe) -- have not prevailed. The remaining members, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas, are solidly conservative.

Overall, any change from the current state of the law is likely to be incremental. The judicial philosophy of O'Connor, Souter, Kennedy and now Ginsburg appears to be "no change is a good change."

Where Ginsburg differs notably from White is in her support for abortion rights and her strong defense of women's rights. Also, while White often has sided with government on free-speech issues, Ginsburg has been more open to First Amendment interests.


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