The Notorious RBG

People in their 70s and 80s may not always say it but there is a liberating sense to reaching that age. It comes with impunity to say what’s on your mind without fear of reprisal or hurting feelings.

That gift, however, does not extend to octogenarians who don the robe of Supreme Court justice because anything and everything they say colors what they do on the bench. Which makes it the ultimate head-scratcher that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg let it all fly in her assessment of Donald Trump as a person, a candidate, and a potential president.

Ginsburg’s decision to wade into the muddy waters of presidential politics can’t be written off as a slip of the tongue or a senior moment. She told the New York Times, Associated Press, and CNN, all in separate interviews, that she fears for the future of the country under a President Trump.

“Faker,” she told CNN.

“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 told the Times.

Trump’s reaction was predictable, with the presumptive nominee who doesn’t handle criticism well saying “her mind is gone” and calling on her to apologize to the court and resign. He also accurately pointed out her comments will “energize my base,” not that his base required more juice. That, though, will be offset by folks on the other side of the divide equally energized that the outspoken Ginsburg has spoken out.

But while Ginsburg caught flak from the Republicans, who regularly bash judges at the state and federal level, she also was brought to the woodshed by a number of supporters who were dismayed she not only gave Trump and his supporters ammunition to question her every decision from here on out, she legitimized criticism that judges and justices are political animals at their base.

Many point out that Ginsburg’s comments will make it harder for her to sit on arguments involving a Trump administration without calls to recuse herself. And what happens if a locked presidential election lands in the court? (After all, it has happened.) Her comments may also have made it hard for her to serve under a (second) President Clinton, since by bashing Trump, she was, by default, endorsing Hillary Clinton. And it might not even be by default, if you read her interview with the AP.

“It’s likely that the next president, whoever she will be, will have a few appointments to make,” she said when talking about her aging colleagues. You can count the number of major party “hers” running for president on one finger.

Ginsburg gave little indication she was planning on stepping down herself, other than a tongue-in-cheek reference to “moving to New Zealand” if Trump is elected. But Ginsburg, despite Trump’s claim of her mind being gone, is no dummy, and it might be worth reading the tea leaves in her comments.

Perhaps the 83-year-old judicial icon, who has at different times battled colon and pancreatic cancer, sees the end of her era. She knows – we don’t even need to say she has to know – that her intemperate and inconvenient comments will overshadow nearly every argument she is involved in and every decision she writes. Maybe she’s trying to ensure her successor will be picked by a like-minded president.

That said, though, her comments have the short-term effect of making the court an issue for the remainder of the campaign and brought an added filter under which all future decisions will be viewed.

“In sum, Ginsburg sold the court short,” the Globe’s Scot Lehigh wrote. “ She may have elevated her status, but she did it at the expense of the institution in which she serves. And that’s a shame.”



The Senate prepares to take up a measure that would impose hotel taxes on home-sharing services such as Airbnb and Homeaway. (CommonWealth)

Pay equity legislation advances on Beacon Hill as one of the leading critics of an earlier version, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, throws it support behind a House version that addresses some of the group’s initial concerns. (Boston Globe)

The Senate unanimously passed a measure making it illegal for employers to run credit checks on potential employees except in limited circumstances, such as the job requiring oversight of more than $6,000 in company funds or for national security. (State House News Service)

Cape lawmakers meet with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito to discuss strategies for dealing with homelessness. (Cape Cod Times)

Legislation pending on Beacon Hill that would require nonprofits to pay property taxes on a quarter of their land’s assessed value is backed by the Lowell City Council. (The Sun)

Former state representative Paul Kujawski of Webster is involved in a two-car collision in Douglas. Kujawski and the mother and daughter in the other car were treated for injuries. (Telegram & Gazette)


Springfield takes initial steps toward asking voters to approve a 1.5 percent property surtax to fund historic preservation and the purchase of open space. (Masslive)

Two City Hall aides to Boston mayor Marty Walsh enter not guilty pleas at their arraignment on federal corruption charges. (Boston Herald)

Springfield city councilors raise concerns about Mayor Domenic Sarno’s deal with a medical marijuana facility that would give the firm a monopoly in the city for 10 years. (Masslive)


Finally: Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is slated to speak on the first night of the Democratic Convention, suggesting she will not be Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick. (New York Times) James Stavridis, a retired admiral now serving as a dean at Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, has reportedly landed on Clinton’s list of potential VP picks. (Boston Globe)

Clinton is “bereft of any grace or humanity,” reads the headline on Joe Fitzgerald’s frothings today. Nothing like a bit of thoughtfully nuanced analysis to start the day. (Boston Herald)

Fox News suspends Newt Gingrich amidst speculation that the former House speaker may become Donald Trump’s running mate. (CNN)

A group of pols and academics plan to listen to both sides on the marijuana ballot question and prepare an analysis for voters. (Masslive)


The Dow Jones industrial average reaches an all-time high for the second day in a row. (Time)

OSHA will investigate what caused a wall to collapse, trapping and injuring two workers, during the controversial demolition of the iconic Wollaston Theater in Quincy. (Patriot Ledger)


Phillips Exeter officials repeatedly tried to keep an allegation of sexual assault by a student at  the exclusive New Hampshire prep school under wraps, but the alleged victim, also a student, finally went on her own to prosecutors and police who have now brought criminal charges in the case. (Boston Globe)

The Easton police chief says he had to make a “difficult decision” to remove officers from the town’s schools because of short staffing levels. (The Enterprise)


State officials have ordered a Brockton nursing home to stop admitting new patients after finding its resident are in “immediate jeopardy” due to poor conditions at the facility. (Boston Globe)

A drug developed by Cambridge-based Sage Therapeutics shows early promise as a treatment for postpartum depression. (STAT)

Baltimore takes a broader view of public health, one that includes gun violence and drug addiction. (Governing)


Gov. Charlie Baker returns a budget provision to the Legislature, pushing for T fare flexibility. (State House News)

Tom Farragher wonders where the outrage is about boosting payments to commuter rail operator Keolis after the company competitively bid and won the contract to deliver its services for a set price. (Boston Globe)


Boston police officials and union leaders reach an agreement on a pilot program to begin use by officers of body-worn cameras. (Boston Globe)

A 14-year-old boy who was already on probation is arrested in connection with a shooting that wounded a 23-year-old woman in Mattapan. (Boston Herald)

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York refused Tom Brady’s request for a full panel to review his discipline, almost ensuring the New England Patriots quarterback will serve his four-game suspension in the Deflategate controversy at the beginning of the season. (Boston Globe)

The federal Appeals Court in Boston sided with the state Attorney General in a suit brought by gun dealers in Natick and Framingham claiming a definition in the Massachusetts gun laws was too vague to be enforced. (MetroWest Daily News)

The Orleans town clerk pled guilty to a reduced charge of operating to endanger and received probation and was ordered to perform community service for killing a college student in Amherst who was walking along the side of the street. (Cape Cod Times)

A new book by Robert Kennedy Jr. is revisiting the 40-year-old murder case against his cousin Michael Skakel, with Kennedy reairing some of the debunked theories about other possible suspects. (Associated Press)


Former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson, who has charged her boss Roger Ailes with sexual harassment, discusses the case with the New York Times.