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Honorable Mark Sanford

Representing the 1st District of South Carolina

Letter on Justice Ginsburg and Trump Travel Ban

Jun 27, 2017
Blog Post

I have always loved symbolism found in the statue of Lady Justice.

The blindfold represents objectivity. Justice should be dealt from our courts objectively, without fear or favour, regardless of money, wealth, power, or identity. In her left hand, Lady Justice holds balance scales, which represent the weighing of evidence.

In this light, the Supreme Court today decided to hear the Trump travel ban case during their next term to determine whether the ban is constitutional. Whether one agrees or disagrees with this ban, it raises the larger question of impartiality in the way our court system decides things - and the degree to which we hold true to the objectivity our Founding Fathers envisioned for our courts.

I mention all this because I joined 57 other members of Congress on a letter that calls for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse herself in the travel ban case based on her comments last year about then-candidate Trump. The letter is led by Congressman Ron DeSantis, and you can see it here.

What has occurred here has parallels to Attorney General Jeff Sessions decision to recuse himself from investigating Trump, given the fact that he is a Trump appointee. I was pleased with his decision and bringing in Robert Mueller, a former FBI Director under the Obama and Bush Jr. administrations, to independently investigate the matter.

Attorney General Sessions made the right call...step aside so as not to cast a cloud of doubt over any final decision. It’s with this in mind that I feel that Justice Ginsburg should do the same in the case challenging Trump’s temporary travel ban.

As a rule, Supreme Court Justices are supposed to recuse themselves when their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned” or where they have “a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.” Based on Justice Ginsburg’s past comments, it seems pretty clear to me that this criteria is met. During the campaign months, she said, “I can’t imagine what this place would be - I can’t imagine what the country would be - with Donald Trump as our president;” and on another occasion, she called him “a faker.” When thinking about the country under a Trump presidency, she said “I don’t want to think about that possibility.” Again, whether we agree or disagree with these statements is not relevant, but what is relevant is whether or not a justice who holds these views can be impartial in their decision making.

It was appropriate for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down in rendering judgement on Trump, and I think the same holds true for Justice Ginsburg.