Ginsburg Deplores Bias Against Gays

By Joan Biskupic
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 23, 1993

Supreme Court nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg yesterday praised American diversity and reaffirmed her view that it is wrong to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

She stopped short, however, of saying such discrimination ought to be illegal or unconstitutional. "I think rank discrimination against anyone is against the tradition of the United States and is to be deplored," Ginsburg told the Senate Judiciary Committee during the third day of confirmation hearings. "Rank discrimination is not part of our nation's culture. Tolerance is."

Ginsburg, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, yesterday declined, under persistent questioning by Republican senators, to endorse the death penalty. She said her mind was open to the argument that capital punishment might conflict with the Eighth Amendment guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment, even while she noted that since 1976 the Supreme Court has ruled it constitutional.

In the third day of testimony, Ginsburg continued to avoid voicing any views beyond her published writings. Nonetheless, the responses of the first Democratic nominee in a quarter century have been strikingly different from those of the Republican appointees who have preceded her in recent years.

She has presented broad views of privacy, equal rights and individual diversity. Rather than sidestepping questions on abortion, as GOP appointees did in the face of Democratic majority questioning, she called it a fundamental right. The issue she danced around was the death penalty.

Committee questioning of Ginsburg is expected to be finished today. The panel has not yet scheduled a vote on her nomination, which appears virtually assured.

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