Outfits like “U.S. Term Limits” were once small, outlying groups many considered radicals. Such organizations have long been leading the charge for term limits for all federal offices; legislators, bureaucrats and judges alike.Yesterday the Supreme Court’s eldest member, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, provided yet more fodder for enacting rules that force officials to — at some point — call it quits, or for the specific idea that it’s simply time for Ginsburg to step down.
On Monday Justice Ginsburg lumped South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham into a broad category of “women of the Senate.” Though “Lindsey” may be more of an odd unisex name than say “Chris” or “Kelly,” you’d think Ginsburg would know by now that Graham is male, as he’s been in elected office in Washington D.C. since 1995, that’s twenty-two years; Ginsberg has been on the Supreme Court, living and working there since 1993 — twenty-four years.
The misquote happened yesterday at an awards ceremony in Washington. Both Ginsburg and the late Antonin Scalia were given Allegheny College’s Prize for Civility in Public Life. The Daily Caller filed this in its report:
“During her remarks at the ceremony, Ginsburg pointed to her and Scalia’s confirmation to the court, adding she hopes “members of Congress…and others of goodwill will lead the way in restoring harmonious work ways.”Ginsburg further pointed out two other sets of Allegheny’s honorees. “Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain” and the “women of the Senate, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham.”
Ginsberg, who turned 84 last month, is no stranger to criticism about aging in the public eye. She made headlines 2015 when cameras caught her not just nodding off but getting a full forty winks while seated front and center for Barack Obama’s annual State of the Union speech:
Later that year Pope Frances made the trek across the pond to make a historic appearance and speech before a joint session of Congress. The excitement around the city and nation was palpable and Ginsburg was so excited that…she fell asleep. Once again, the jurist dozed off on worldwide camera. Fellow female and liberal SCOTUS justice Sonia Sotomayer did her best to keep Ginsburg conscious with a few discreet nudges — kind of the way your mom would give your dad an elbow shot to the ribs to stop his snoring in the pews on Sundays — but it didn’t work. Ginsburg was out.
Aging has the same affect on everyone. We slow down, tire more easily and cannot maintain the pace we once could. It’s just fact. The question has often been asked that if you started a new company and it began to take off, would you hire a bunch of 70, 80 and 90-year-olds to run it? Not likely. Yet that aptly describes many who aren’t running a company but a country. Are term limits the only way to keep these people from hanging on til the bitter end? Possibly, but not all 84 year-olds are equal, physically or intellectually. But when faculties appear to wane and stamina is such that staying awake through a 60-minute speech is a challenge…or remembering the gender of someone you’ve known for years eludes you — maybe it’s time.
[Note: This article was written by Derrick Wilburn]