Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has caused a storm of controversy by saying in a television interview that the people of Egypt should not look to the United States Constitution when drafting their own governing document because it’s too old and there are newer examples from which to draw inspiration.
“I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” Ginsburg said in the interview, which aired on Jan. 30 on Al-Hayat TV.
Her comments have stunned writers across the conservative blogosphere, though many major media outlets have not given much attention to it.
In the interview, she argued that the United States has the “oldest written constitution still in force in the world,” so instead “you should certainly be aided by all the constitution-writing that has gone one since the end of World War II.”
“I might look at the constitution of South Africa,” Ginsburg said. “That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary.”
Ginsburg, appointed to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton, said South Africa’s constitution is “a great piece of work that was done” and cited other documents outside America’s constitution that Egyptians should read.
“Much more recent than the U.S. Constitution, Canada has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Ginsburg said. “It dates from 1982. You would almost certainly look at the European Convention on Human Rights.”
“Yes,” she concluded, “why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world?”