In the wake of the death of former US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, Sept. 18, a lot of North Carolina political leaders – Republicans and Democrats alike – were praising Ginsburg and her life story.
However, it’s interesting to remember that, at the beginning of her Supreme Court career, one famous North Carolina political leader – former Sen. Jesse Helms – was one of her biggest critics ideologically and one of only three Senate votes against her nomination.
The highly conservative Helms stated during the debate over her nomination in 1993: “This lady, whom I have regarded as a pleasant, intellectual liberal, is, in fact, a woman whose beliefs are 180 degrees in opposition to some fundamental principles that are important not only to me but, I believe, to the majority of other Americans.”
According to a Washington Post article covering that nomination process nearly three decades ago, Helms criticized Ginsburg’s abortion rights stance as well her support for what he called her “homosexual agenda.”
The Post noted that Ginsburg refused to comment in her testimony before the Senate on “whether it was illegal or unconstitutional to deny people benefits based on their sexual orientation.”
When Ginsburg gave a speech in Raleigh late last year, Ginsburg brought up that no vote from Helms and she stated that the politicization of the Supreme Court needs to stop. During that speech, she referred to Helms’ vote and pointed out that back then there was an attempt to get a broad consensus from members of both parties.
Ginsburg stated in Raleigh that the politicization of the Supreme Court is a trend that needs to stop.
According to the News and Observer, she said, “I hope I live to see the day when we go back to the way it was, and the way it should be.”
Ginsburg did not get her wish.