Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appears to have damaged her credibility due to ruminations about a possible Donald Trump presidency. She made it clear during an interview that she viewed the election of Trump as a disaster and even joked that were her husband still alive, they would seriously contemplate moving to New Zealand.

Judges, especially Supreme Court justices, tend to avoid commenting on partisan political issues. The reason is that they might at any time have to rule on a case concerning such matters.

Many court observers now suggest that Ginsburg would have to recuse herself from any case that involves Trump, especially if he becomes president.

Imagine, for example, a case similar to what happened in 2000 when the Supreme Court had to rule on the endless vote recounts taking place that year in Florida. The ruling the Court handed down at that time had stopped the recounts before they impacted the transition from one presidency to another, in effect confirming the election of George W. Bush. Enemies of the Bush administration even today claim that the 43rd president was “selected and not elected.” However, media analyses conducted at the time concluded that Bush would still have prevailed against then-Vice President Al Gore had the recount been allowed to continue.

In any case, any justice like Ginsburg who had expressed an opinion supporting or opposing one candidate or another would have to recuse herself from a similar case.

Justice Ginsburg is in her 80s, so her career on the Supreme Court is not likely to last much longer in any case. She will more than likely be replaced by the next president. If Donald Trump, contrary to Ginsburg’s wish, is elected, he will nominate a more conservative justice, tilting the ideological balance of the court.

If Hillary Clinton becomes president, she will indeed appoint a liberal in the mode of Ginsburg, keeping the balance of the court the way it is.

Ginsberg intemperate statement highlights one of the stakes of the 2016 election. The outcome of the election will shape the federal court system, including the Supreme Court, for decades to come.

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