March 7, 2007

Tiny answer to big question: Ruth Bader Ginsburg's shoe!

And Linda Greenhouse gets the better of Jan Crawford Greenburg, who blogged -- (blogged!) -- about "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s delay in getting to her feet and leaving the bench," which "Ms. Greenburg wrote, seemed a sign of possible ill health and 'made me think I’d better start pulling those possible retirement files together.'"

Greenhouse has the excitement-deflating news that "Justice Ginsburg had kicked off her shoes during the argument and could not find one of them."

ADDED: David Lat is reveling in the battle of the Greens, -house and -burg. Go read the text. Here's the graphic:


Atticus said...

Greenhouse, Greenberg, Ginsburg. I have no idea what that signifies but I do like wordplay.

Ann Althouse said...

Althouse, Greenhouse, Greenberg, Ginsburg. (I know. It doesn't begin with G.)

AllenS said...


My dame has lost her shoe;
My master's lost his fiddling-stick,
And don't know what to do."

Ok, which one of the guys has the fiddling-stick?

Pogo said...

What, no undergarments kicked off?
What kind of scandal is this anyway?

Simon said...

Two points:

(1) Earlier in the column, Greenhouse observes that "Numbers do not lie, but out of context, they can easily mislead"; that is an apt observation, given that the same can be said of quotes when the New York Times refuses to link to the source. Greenhouse writes:

"Ginsburg’s delay in getting to her feet and leaving the bench, Ms. Greenburg wrote, seemed a sign of possible ill health and “made me think I’d better start pulling those possible retirement files together.” The alarming item quickly made its way around the blogosphere, puzzling court insiders who know that Justice Ginsburg, 73, is in fine health and keeps to a schedule that would exhaust most people who are decades younger"

Placed back into context, what Greenburg actually said was this:

"It was strikingly odd. I was standing next to Jim Vincini of Reuters, and we looked at each other with some alarm. No one could recall seeing Ginsburg in such slow motion, and it immediately begged the question of her health—which of course begs the question of whether any of the justices are going to be leaving the court anytime soon and give George W. Bush his third nomination. I have predicted with confidence that no one else will leave by design, and I’ve flatly rejected any suggestions that Justice Ginsburg was not at the top of her game physically. She’ll be 74 next month, and she’s active and social—and said to be recovered from her bout with cancer. People who don’t know Justice Ginsburg always say she looks so slight, so frail. But that’s Justice Ginsburg. She is slight. Even when she fell asleep during oral argument awhile back, I didn’t read anything into it since she’d just returned from out of the country and could easily have been suffering from jet lag."

Methinks the real issue here is that Greenhouse is engaging in a belated attempt to protect her flank, distorting Greenburg's comments to portray her as a rookie gossip. I can imagine how Greenhouse might feel threatened by a reporter who gives us a glimpse of what genuinely dispassionate and informed reporting about the Supreme Court looks, a standard against which Greenhouse falls far short.

(2) The suggestion about the missing shoe comes from the Ginsburg chambers. Not perhaps the most neutral source to turn to if there really was some sort of issue.

BrianOfAtlanta said...

Maybe the fact that she sits in the tallest chair while being the shortest justice had something to do with it.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I agree with Simon that Greenhouse is taking a bitchy cheap shot at Jan.

hdhouse said...

How about the obvious...she was looking for her shoes....but I'll wait until tonight's edition of Faux then it will be shoegate and Clinton will have stolen them.

Fen said...

But wasn't it Ginsburg who recently fell asleep on the bench during some poor feeb's argument? Or was that someone else?

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Althouse, Greenhouse, Greenberg, Ginsburg




Sue me.

Joe Baby said...

Longer post modified thusly:

Greenhouse is a sack of crap. Has made herself not worth listening to.

But the latest example of the agenda journalist whose arrogance and insularity exceeds her bias.

And that's not easy.

Wurly said...

Isn't it more embarrassing that Greenberg doesn't know what "begs the question" means?

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedarford said...

The obvious question behind Greenhouse's reporting on the age or possible infirmities of the four aged SCOTUS justices is "who is next"?

One of the few positive things moderates can give the Bush Administration is their apparant success in appointing judges NOT like Ruth Bader Ginsburg (other than Bush's moment of Harriet Miers insanity).

Another croaks or retires, Bush gets another pick that hopefully ends the era of SCOTUS acting as an unelected Constitution redrafting committee.

The closer we come to a new election, the more likely a liberal justice is to "gut it out" like Reinquist did if they become invalided by disease or have a dying spouse - shielded by fawning admirers who claim similar to Reinquist's inner circle did: "The Chief is full of energy, his mind is sharp, and he is doing all his duties...excellently, we may add..." With a liberal, it would be more akin to Douglas and Thurgood Marshall in their decline hanging on so they could "time" their departure so an ideological soulmate could replace them.

Simon said...

Re Cedarford's comment about Rehnquist's health, I don't know that there was or has been any suggestion before or after Rehnquist's death that he was mentally in decline, and the impression that he was not is supported by everything in the public record and by the statements of both friends and ideological opponents.

In an ironic twist, I actually asked Greenhouse - no friend of the late Chief's jurisprudence - about Rehnquist's health and ability to serve out another term as it's now known he desired to do, and she told me: "his doctors had told him in the late spring that he was defying predictions and doing better than would be expected given his dire diagnosis - in fact, one of his doctors presented his case at the major thyroid cancer meeting in the spring of 2005 ... Metastatic cancer can turn very suddenly, and I think he went downhill drastically in the last month." One would not expect Greenhouse to want any part of keeping the secret that Rehnquist just wasn't up to the job any more if that had been true (although concededly, her credulity in reporting the Ginsburg chambers' version of events does seem to imply that in the ranks of investigative journalism, her perspicacity seems comparable to Lois Lane's).

My point is that there seems no foundation on which to base what I read to be Cedarford's accusation that Rehnquist's physical illness was comparable to Justice Douglas' decline. With that said, cynic that I am, I do agree that even if Justices Stevens or Ginsburg were in decline (and I've seen no reason whatsoever to think that they are), they would hang on as did Brennan and Marshall in the desperate hope of keeping their seats from the clumsy artisans.

Simon said...

Ann, on further reflection, I really don't think the facts support the characterization in the main post of Greenhouse "get[ting] the better of [JCG]." That suggests that Greenhouse has actually called JCG out on something she got or did wrong, which simply isn't the case here: this is a Greenhouse overreach, as explained in my comment earlier.