I’m not making this up. Ruth Bader Ginsburg gave that advice to a group of Egyptians via an interview, which aired on Al-Hayat TV on January 30, 2012:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: It is a very inspiring time - that you have overthrown a dictator, and that you are striving to achieve a genuine democracy. So I think people in the United States are hoping that this transition will work, and that there will genuinely be a government of, by, and for the people.
I met with the head of the elections commission. I think that the first step has gone well, and that elections have been held for the lower house that everyone has considered to be free and fair. So that's one milestone, and the next will be the drafting of a constitution.
I can't speak about what the Egyptian experience should be, because I'm operating under a rather old constitution. The United States, in comparison to Egypt, is a very new nation, and yet we have the oldest written constitution still in force in the world.
Let me say first that a constitution, as important as it is, will mean nothing unless the people are yearning for liberty and freedom. If the people don't care, then the best constitution in the world won't make any difference. So the spirit of liberty has to be in the population, and then the constitution - first, it should safeguard basic fundamental human rights, like our First Amendment, the right to speak freely, and to publish freely, without the government as a censor.
You should certainly be aided by all the constitution-writing that has gone one since the end of World War II. I would not look to the US constitution, if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary... It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recent than the US constitution - Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It dates from 1982. You would almost certainly look at the European Convention on Human Rights. Yes, why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world?
This isn’t the first time that Ginsburg has publicly shown contempt for our constitution. In 2005, she openly advocated for the right of judges to use foreign law in their decisions; in effect, installing a judicial oligarchy. And again in 2009:
“I frankly don’t understand all the brouhaha lately from Congress and even from some of my colleagues about referring to foreign law,” Justice Ginsburg said in her comments on Friday.
The court’s more conservative members — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — oppose the citation of foreign law in constitutional cases.
“If we’re relying on a decision from a German judge about what our Constitution means, no president accountable to the people appointed that judge and no Senate accountable to the people confirmed that judge,” Chief Justice Roberts said at his confirmation hearing. “And yet he’s playing a role in shaping the law that binds the people in this country.”
Justice Ginsburg said the controversy was based on the misunderstanding that citing a foreign precedent means the court considers itself bound by foreign law as opposed to merely being influenced by such power as its reasoning holds.
“Why shouldn’t we look to the wisdom of a judge from abroad with at least as much ease as we would read a law review article written by a professor?” she asked.
This woman shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court. Better yet, the court shouldn’t be the sole arbiter of all things “constitutional.” The federal judiciary has been on a power grab since its inception. It’s about time we put a “check and balance” on this rogue institution.