Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the most outspoken member of the Supreme Court, sometimes to her regret, writes Adam Liptak of the New York Times. Last year, she issued a statement saying that her criticisms of Donald Trump during the presidential campaign had been ill advised. “In the future,” she said, “I will be more circumspect.” She has stayed true to her word, to a point, but she remains blunt and candid. In a pair of recent appearances–at Duke and George Washington universities–Ginsburg critiqued the Trump administration’s travel ban, predicted an end to capital punishment and suggested that the other branches of government are in disarray.
Ginsburg did not mention Trump at either appearance, but she did say at George Washington that the Supreme Court enjoyed a more favorable reputation than the other parts of the federal government. “If you took a poll today of the three branches of government, which one do the people think is doing the best job?” she asked. “We’re way out in front of Congress.” She also said the death penalty in the U.S. may soon be extinct. “The incidence of capital punishment has gone down, down, down so that now, I think, there are only three states that actually administer the death penalty,” she said. “We may see an end to capital punishment by attrition as there are fewer and fewer executions.” The number of executions has fallen sharply, with only 20 carried out in 2016, the smallest number in decades. But seven states have executed condemned inmates this year.