A few days ago, I had a brief political discussion with one of my friends who happens to be a liberal Democrat. We don’t talk about politics much. We mainly work together on legal cases and enjoy each other’s company.
After the conversation, I thought about how starkly we disagree on our worldviews the role of government, and the Constitution. I also thought about how we simply “agree to disagree” and move on with our work and lives.
I wish I was always able to do that with everyone.
As with many small things that happen during a week, this brief conversation lead to an idea for a column; the Supreme Court’s “odd couple.”
The sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia shocked America. Scalia had his admirers, like me, and his critics, like my above mentioned friend. But, it is generally agreed that he was one of the brightest justices in the history of the Court.
While the country still mourns his death, another person’s pain is far greater; Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Justice Ginsburg is widely known as the most liberal justice on the Supreme Court. The former general counsel of the ACLU is as far to the left as Scalia was to the right. So, you would think that she would have nothing but contempt for this boorish, insensitive extremist, as his detractors called him.
No. It was just the opposite.
Even though Ginsburg and Scalia frequently sparred over judicial matters, they shared a deep friendship and respect for one another.
Ginsburg often spoke highly of Scalia, praising his eloquence. Last year, she recalled the first time she heard him speak: “I disagreed with most of what he said, but I loved the way he said it.”
But she was never afraid to challenge her friend.
“I love him, but sometimes I’d like to strangle him,” she once said.
The two friends also shared meals and frequently celebrated New Year’s Eve together. They parasailed in France, rode an elephant together in India, and bonded over their mutual love of opera, frequently attending performances together.
Ginsburg’s statement after his death highlighted their unlikely bond.
“From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots.” In other words, she possessed deep respect for him and his work from the day they met.
In the rare instances when they would appear together in public, they seemed to enjoy each other’s company.
“Call us the odd couple,” Scalia said at an event last year. “She likes opera, and she’s a very nice person. What’s not to like? Except her views on the law.”
Put simply, Scalia had and Ginsburg has class. I don’t mean the type of class from an economic perspective. This is the type of class that only comes from within a person’s character.
And, their relationship is unfortunately an odd one indeed. If you turn on the news, the battles between right and left are vicious, ugly, and personal. Sadly, I have lost touch with this year’s presidential race because of the behavior I have seen from almost all of the candidates.
Please do not misunderstand. I have fought and will continue to fight for freedom, less government, less taxes, and the protection of Constitutional rights; particularly the right to bear arms. The thought of Hillary Clinton as the next president or the Supreme Court becoming a 5-4 liberal majority honestly makes me queasy.
But, I hope that I will always have and try my best to use the ability to care for my friends and treat others who do not agree with me in a respectful manner.