To Kelly and many other current and former military, the brass who are weighing in on the 2016 campaign with critiques or endorsements are breaking down a sacred wall between the military and civilian politics that helps maintain the “tell it like it is” integrity of one of the most trusted institutions in the United States.“It adds to this mistrust issue … if suddenly a guy retires and says, ‘I think this administration is doing all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons,’” he said. The worst thing, Kelly added, would be for a president “to ever think for a second that he’s getting anything but the absolute best military advice, completely devoid of politics.”
Unless they have a book to sell, Supreme Court justices rarely give interviews. Even then, they diligently avoid political topics. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes a different approach.
These days, she is making no secret of what she thinks of a certain presidential candidate.
“I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president,” she said. “For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.”
For Ginsburg, it’s clear that this has become a calculated risk that she is going to take. The New York Times comments weren’t even the only time she has been critical of Trump. In an Associated Press interview published Friday, she also said a Trump presidency is basically unthinkable. …That’s twice in two interviews — i.e. not a coincidence.
To say her public comments are unusual is like saying dancing cows are scarce. Supreme Court justices don’t — at least until now — take public stands on presidential or other elections. One reason is that they are barred from doing so by the federal code of judicial conduct, which states that as a general rule, judges shall not “publicly endorse or publicly oppose another candidate for public office.” They also aren’t allowed to make speeches on behalf of political organizations or give money to candidates. …Nowhere is that impartiality more important than in the highest court in the land, which has the final word on a host of grave questions. For justices to descend into partisan election campaigns would undermine public faith in their willingness to assess each case strictly on its legal merits. It would also encourage justices to let their political biases affect, if not determine, their decisions.