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Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Trump’s presidency: ‘We are not experiencing the best of times’

Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at the Jewish Federations of North America conference in Washington in 2016. (Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)
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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a noted critic of President Trump, suggested that she doesn't believe the country is in good hands but said she is hopeful about the future.

“We're not experiencing the best of times,” Ginsburg said Thursday on BBC's “Newsnight,” though she did not comment directly about the president.

But, the 83-year-old jurist said the public's resistance to the new administration — on full display at last month's Women's March protests — has given her “reason to hope that we will see a better day.”

“A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle; it is the pendulum, and when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back,” she told BBC.

“Some terrible things have happened in the United States, but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things,” she added, citing the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II as an example.

Ginsburg, who leads the Supreme Court's liberal wing, repeated the sentiment during an appearance at George Washington University on Thursday.

“I meant that we are not as mindful of what makes America great,” Ginsburg told a crowd at the university, appearing to draw from Trump's signature slogan.

She cited examples, such as the freedom to speak one's mind and the idea that the United States is “receptive” and “welcoming” to all people, the Associated Press reported.

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Ginsburg didn't talk about Trump's controversial executive order barring refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. But, according to the AP, she reflected on the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

The White House has said that the president will soon unveil a revised order after the first one was blocked by federal courts.

Ginsburg also defended the free press, the target of repeated attacks from the president, who has called the media “the enemy of the American People.” The justice said she reads both The Washington Post and the New York Times every day and believes that “reporters are trying to tell the public the way things are.”

Trump has consistently attacked both publications and the media in general, dismissing negative stories about his administration as fake news.

“What is important is that we have a free press, which many countries don't have,” Ginsburg told BBC. “Think of what the press has done in the United States.”

She cited The Post's Watergate investigation. The work of Bob Woodward, now an associate editor at The Post, and Carl Bernstein, a former reporter, in exposing the Watergate scandal helped bring about President Richard Nixon's resignation.

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“That story might never have come out if we didn't have the free press that we do,” said Ginsburg, who noted that she lives in “the famous Watergate” building.

Ginsburg has earned the nickname “Notorious RBG” for never being shy about granting interviews or speaking her mind.

Her most recent remarks seemed more subdued and lacked the bluntness of her past criticisms of Trump. Unlike her Supreme Court colleagues who have avoided political commentary, the Bill Clinton appointee has made no secret of her dislike for the real-estate developer.

In July, she criticized Trump in three separate media interviews.

Predicting that Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton would win, she told the AP in July that she refused to even think about the possibility of a Trump victory. In an interview with the New York Times, she said she couldn't imagine what the country and the Supreme Court would be like if Trump won.

“For the country, it could be four years,” she said. “For the court, it could be — I don't even want to contemplate that.”

In her remarks on the presumptive GOP nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg may have trumped her usual outspokenness

She also called Trump a “faker” during an interview with CNN.

“He has no consistency about him. He said whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego,” she told CNN, questioning how Trump had gotten away with not turning over his tax returns.

The Notorious RBG and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump traded insults. Here’s a quick rundown of what the two have said. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Trump, as he is also known to do, fired back. He called the justice's comments “highly inappropriate” in an interview with the Times and took to Twitter to call for her resignation.

Ginsburg's outspokenness about Trump later backfired, with some critics saying she had crossed the line. She later said she regretted the comments but fell short of apologizing — which Trump demanded.

Ginsburg is the oldest of the sitting justices. She told the BBC that she has “a way to go,” drawing from the experience of the Supreme Court's most recent retiree, John Paul Stevens, who left the bench at age 90.


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