Democrats and Republicans are both to blame for the fighting that occurs when a president nominates someone to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Monday.
She told a crowd of about 7,100 people at the University of Notre Dame she was confirmed by the Senate on a 96-3 vote in 1993 and Justice Stephen Breyer was confirmed by an 87-9 vote the next year. It hasn't been like that since, she said.
Ginsburg said Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, was her biggest supporter on the Judiciary Committee then. She said she doesn't think he would feel comfortable taking a similar position now because of the partisan divide.
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"But some day there will be great representatives on both of the aisles who recognize they are not representing the United States very well if they are constantly in conflict instead of trying to work together in harmony," she said.
The 83-year-old justice's comments come as Republican leaders in the Senate are refusing to consider President Barack Obama's high court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. The Supreme Court has been working without a ninth justice since the death of Antonin Scalia in February.
Ginsburg spent the first 80 minutes of the event answering questions from U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Ann Claire Williams, a Notre Dame graduate and board of trustee member. She then answered questions from students for about half an hour. Ginsburg was not asked about and did not comment on the ongoing presidential campaign or refer to the controversial remarks she made earlier this year about GOP nominee Donald Trump.
Ginsburg told The Associated Press in July that she did not want to think about the prospect of the Republican winning the presidency over Democrat Hillary Clinton. She escalated her criticism in subsequent media interviews but later said her comments were "ill advised."
Ginsburg declined to say what she considers the most difficult case she's ever been involved in, but said death penalty cases are always the hardest for her.
There's been a big change in the United States, with most states either abolishing the death penalty or keeping it "on their books" but not issuing the sentences, Ginsburg said.
"The death penalty is concentrated in about six states and even within those states within in particular counties in those states. So maybe it will end by attrition," she said.