A Frank Admission by Justice Ginsburg:

Conservatives often criticize the Supreme Court on the ground that the Justices sometimes indulge their personal preferences over standard legal sources in deciding cases. Defenders of the Court, however, argue that those criticisms are unfair.

In that light, I was struck by a fairly frank admission by Justice Ginsburg about the way in which her personal views directly impacted her vote in a First Amendment case:

Justice Ginsburg also said that her Jewish heritage influenced her ruling in at least one case involving another religion.

"We had one case where I was in dissent — it was about a cross in front of the statehouse in Ohio. And to me, the photograph of that statehouse told the whole story of the case: Here is the Capitol in Columbus, and here is this giant cross. And what is the perception of a Jewish child who is passing by the Capitol? It's certainly that this is a Christian country. A person's reaction could be: 'There's something wrong with me.' It's not a symbol that includes you."


A word of explanation--I characterized this as a "frank admission" in that although judges surely are influenced by their personal experiences and viewpoints, it strikes me as somewhat rare for a judge to state as explicitly as Justice Ginsburg seems to do so here that she was so strongly influenced by her visceral and subjective reaction to a photograph in the case that it "told the whole story of the case," as opposed to standard legal arguments.