"Justice Ginsburg Laments 'Real Racial Problem' in U.S.," is by Marcia Coyle of the National Law Journal. Here's teh beginning and her comments on the death penalty.
The turmoil in Ferguson, Mo., and the controversial stop-and-frisk policy in New York City illustrate a “real racial problem” in America, one that recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have done little to help, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told The National Law Journal.
The high court was “once a leader in the world” in rooting out racial discrimination,” the justice said in a wide-ranging interview late Wednesday in her chambers. “What’s amazing is how things have changed.”
NLJ: Towards the end of their tenure on the court, justices Harry Blackmun and John Paul Stevens, and even later than that, Justice Lewis Powell Jr., decided they could no longer support the constitutionality of the death penalty. As we see increased problems with lethal injection, what are your thoughts now about the penalty?
GINSBURG: I’ve always made the distinction that if I were in the legislature, there’d be no death penalty. If I had been on the court for Furman [v. Georgia, 1972, invalidating the death penalty], I wouldn’t have given us the death penalty back four years later. Stevens and Powell were part of that. I think there wouldn’t have been a big fuss. There was a big fuss initially over the decision that stopped executions. If the court had stayed there, it would have been accepted. That was the golden opportunity. I had to make the decision was I going to be like Brennan and Marshall who took themselves out of the loop [by dissenting in every case upholding the penalty]. There have been some good death penalty decisions. If I took myself out, I couldn’t be any kind of contributor to those.
NLJ: After more than two decades on the court, what types of cases still vex or challenge you?
GINSBURG: Death penalty. For one thing, our jurisprudence is dense and then we have these contributions from Congress like AEDPA [Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act]. Because we had no death penalty in the District of Columbia, my first year here, I asked my clerks to write a memo so I could become familiar with where the court was on the death penalty. It was dense then and it has gotten only worse.