ReutersLegal posts, "The would-be diva," by Anna Louie Sussman.
United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a reputation as an opera lover; she’s seen frequently at the Washington National Opera and has even made cameos in two of its productions. In fact, she says in an interview with the WQXR radio program Operavore, she would have preferred to be an opera singer than a lawyer.
Justice Ginsburg tells host and mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne that her career in law was a reluctant second choice.
“People ask me, ‘If you could be whatever you want to be, what would you be?’ And my first answer is not, ‘A great lawyer.’ It is, ‘I would be a great diva.’ But I totally lack that talent, so the next best thing is the law,” she said.
She also compared ruling on death penalty cases to the plight of Captain Edward Vere in Billy Budd, who is forced to obey the letter of the law and sentence Budd to hang, despite his doubts about Budd’s guilt. While she has said before she finds death penalty cases very difficult, she has also refrained from declaring them all unconstitutional.
“If I had my way there would be no death penalty. But the death penalty for now is the law, and I could say ‘Well, I won’t participate in those cases,’ but then I can’t be an influence,” she said.
You can listen to the archived audio of the February 2nd edition of WQXR-FM's Operavore, "Law and Order on the Opera Stage."
On today's program, the highest art in the land meets the highest court: presiding mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne talks with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a noted opera fan who has even appeared onstage in cameo roles. "If truth be told, lawyers and law do not come off very well in opera," she explains.
"Justice Ginsburg: ‘If I Had My Way, There Would Be No Death Penalty’," is Ian Millhiser's post at Think Progress.
Josh Blackman's Blog pulls more from the interview, "Justice Ginsburg on the Death Penalty and Being a 'Great Diva'.”
Q: But it’s not the law in every state:
RBG: No, but it is the law in most states. Well over half states.
Q: I don’t want to get too involved in this. How does this translate to the highest Court?
RBG: There is a question about the fairness of the trial. Maybe the prosecutor failed to disclose exculpatory evidence. Maybe the defendant was not mentally competent. These are the issues that come to us.
Interestingly, RBG would not take the approach that Justices Brennan and Marshall did–that the death penalty was always unconstitutional. Yet, their position became marginalized because they perpetually dissented.