It came to light Tuesday that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had been talking to the media about what she thinks of Donald Trump. A Justice coming out as opposed to or in favor of a candidate running for elected office has never really been done before, and it’s drawing ethical concerns from experts. Yet ABC and CBS treated it like just another wacky development in the 2016 presidential election.
“Now, to Donald Trump tonight, demanding an apology this evening from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after what she said about him,” stated ABC Anchor David Muir on World News Tonight, as if it was just a petty squabble.
“Tonight, Donald Trump in a supreme fight with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” joked ABC’s Tom Llamas during his report. Llamas didn’t send much time on Ginsberg’s comments. His instead chose to pivot to talking about what Indiana Governor Mike Pence thinks about Trump, and the possible VP pick.
CBS’s coverage wasn’t much better. “Well, the presumptive Republican nominee has been the target of a highly unusual opinion by a Supreme Court justice,” said CBS Anchor Scott Pelley. The CBS reporter on the story was Major Garrett. The only counter to Ginsberg he reported on was Trump’s response and the response of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
NBC was the only network in the “big three” to report on the real ethical concerns experts have with Ginsberg’s comments. “Supreme Court justices are appointed for life; making them nearly untouchable, but experts on legal ethics say justice Ginsburg is violating a rule that judges should stay out of politics,” reported Justice Correspondent Pete Williams.
“No matter how strongly she feels, part of the job of a judge is to keep her feelings to herself on these public issues and candidates for public office,” explained Law Professor Arthur Hellman, to Williams.
In Addition, the Spanish-language networks, Univision and Telemundo, didn’t report on the Ginsberg’s comments at all.
World News Tonight
July 12, 2016
6:42:10 PM Eastern [2 Minutes 1 Second]
DAVID MUIR: Now, to Donald Trump tonight, demanding an apology this evening from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after what she said about him. ABC's Tom Llamas on the Trump campaign.
[Cuts to video]
TOM LLAMAS: Tonight, Donald Trump in a supreme fight with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after she told The New York Times, quote, "I won't imagine what this place would be. I can't imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president." She didn't stop there. Telling CNN, "He is a faker. He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns?"
Her comments, an unprecedented attack by a Supreme Court justice in the modern era on a presidential candidate. Trump calling it a disgrace. And highly inappropriate. Adding, "I would hope she would get off the court as soon as possible."
The grapple with Ginsberg comes as Trump prepares to announce his running mate.
July 12, 2016
6:40:52 PM Eastern [2 Minutes 21 Seconds]
SCOTT PELLEY: Well, the presumptive Republican nominee has been the target of a highly unusual opinion by a Supreme Court justice. Here's Major Garrett.
[Cuts to video]
MAJOR GARRETT: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, long among the most liberal voices on the court, spoke fearfully of a Donald Trump presidency. "I don't want to think about that possibility, but if it should be, then everything is up for grabs," she told the Associated Press. In another interview with The New York Times, Ginsburg said, "I can't imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president."
Ginsburg also accused Trump of hold nothing firm political beliefs. "He is a faker," the 83-year-old justice told CNN. "He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment."
Ginsburg, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993, offered this thought about the next president. "She is bound to have a few appointments to the court."
Trump called Ginsburg's comments, "Highly inappropriate." He told The New York Times, "I think it's a disgrace to the court and I think she should apologize." Adding, "I couldn't believe it when saw it."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now blocking efforts to fill a Supreme Court vacancy by denying nominee Merrick Garland confirmation hearings also faulted Ginsburg.
MITCH MCCONNELL: I think Justice Ginsberg’s remarks were totally inappropriate. And I wish she hadn't said them.
GARRETT: Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic leader, did not jump to Ginsburg's defense.
HARRY REID: I'm not going to comment on what any of the eight Supreme Court justices say.
[Cuts back to live]
GARRETT: We have learned Trump will announce his running mate Friday. One of the top contenders, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, campaigned here tonight with trump. Adding to the intrigue, Scott, another contender, Newt Gingrich, had his contributor arrangement with the Fox News Channel suspended today. Senior Trump officials insist that had nothing to do with the Trump vice presidential evaluation process.
PELLEY: Major, what else do we know about the rollout of Trump's running mate?
GARRETT: Well, far campaign that has been no means been traditional, it will be a very traditional rollout, likely New York, although that's not absolutely locked down, senior officials tell us. But then a weekend worth of campaign rallies and then the Sunday talk shows all trying to build momentum for Trump and his newly christened running mate heading into the Republican convention in Cleveland. Scott?
July 12, 2016
7:11:54 PM Eastern [1 Minute 37 Seconds]
LESTER HOLT: In the superheated climate of presidential politicians, one place from which we don't normally expect to hear partisan remarks is within the US Supreme Court. But it's happened. And recent comments by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg about Donald Trump have even some of our supporters wondering if she went too far. Justice correspondent Pete Williams explains.
[Cuts to video]
PETE WILLIAMS: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the court's most outspoken justice off the bench. But her biting remarks about Donald Trump have legal experts saying she went too far.
To The New York Times quote, “I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our President.” She said it reminded her of something her husband Martin, who died in 2010, would of said, “Now it's time to move to New Zealand.”
To Author Joan Biskupic, “He is a faker, he says whatever comes into his head at the moment, how has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns.”
Asked by the AP about a Trump victory, quote, “I don't want to think about that possibility.”
Trump himself calls her remarks a disgrace and says she should apologize to her colleagues, adding, “I would hope she would get off the court as soon as possible.”
Supreme Court justices are appointed for life; making them nearly untouchable, but experts on legal ethics say justice Ginsburg is violating a rule that judges should stay out of politics.
ARTHUR HELLMAN: No matter how strongly she feels, part of the job of a judge is to keep her feelings to herself on these public issues and candidates for public office.
WILLIAMS: One of her defenders asked tonight, doesn't everyone have an outspoken Jewish grandmother? Justice Ginsburg is soon off on a planned trip overseas. Though not to New Zealand. Pete Williams, NBC News at the Supreme Court.