Ugh: NYT’s Liptak Gushes Over 'Rock Star' Justice Ginsburg, AKA ‘Notorious R.B.G.’

February 9th, 2018 8:19 PM

Friday’s New York Times featured a “Sidebar” column by the paper’s left-leaning Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak celebrating Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “24 Years on the Bench, and Still Putting Them in the Seats.” The online headline provied her nickname: “On Tour With Notorious R.B.G., Judicial Rock Star.”

Liptak is a long-time fan of Ginsburg’s social-justice approach to interpreting the law, and the text box summed up the tone of his lead National section "news" story: "Boisterous applause for a genial justice in city after city."

Before using Ginsburg’s silly nickname (a reference to the late rapper Notorious B.I.G.), Liptak compared her to a music superstar of another era.

They say that Bob Dylan, 76, is on a never-ending tour. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is eight years older and has a day job, seems to have acquired Mr. Dylan’s taste for the road.

In the space of three weeks, she is set to make at least nine public appearances. They follow a pattern: a thunderous standing ovation from an adoring crowd, followed by gentle questioning from a sympathetic interviewer.

The same kind of treatment Liptak gave Ginsburg.

The audience swoons, and the show moves on to the next venue.

She seems to enjoy the attention. “I am soon to be 85,” she said on Tuesday at New York Law School, “and everyone wants to take their picture with me.”

Her fans call her Notorious R.B.G., a nod to the rapper Notorious B.I.G., and Justice Ginsburg embraces the connection. “We were both born and bred in Brooklyn, New York,” she likes to say.

She was at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah on Jan. 21 for the premiere of a documentary on her career. The next day, she was absent from the Supreme Court bench, asking Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to announce her majority opinion in a closely divided case in which she tangled with the court’s newest member, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.

Liptak didn’t mention that Ginsburg was given a softball interview at Sundance by none other than National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg.

At the synagogue, Justice Ginsburg, who was sharply critical of Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign, said her talk had been planned before the date of his speech was announced.

“I’ll say no more,” she said. In response, a local reporter wrote, “the audience roared with knowing laughter.”

How adorable.

The closest thing to a criticism was Liptak bringing up Ginsburg’s half-dissent against the liberal dogma of Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court had moved too fast, Justice Ginsburg wrote at the time. It would have sufficed, she wrote, to strike down the extreme Texas law at issue in the case and then proceeded in measured steps in later cases to consider other abortion restrictions.


Her analysis is contested, as Justice Ginsburg acknowledged on Monday. “I know that there are many people who disagree with me on this subject,” she said.