RBG on Constitutions and Liberty for Egypt

February 2nd, 2012

Here is some advice Justice Ginsburg offered the people of Egypt on drafting a new Constitution:

When asked by her interviewer how best to draft a constitution and protect it from contemporary political pressures (perhaps alluding to Islamic parties’ dominance in the new parliament’s lower house), Justice Ginsburg answered, “A constitution, as important as it is, will mean nothing unless the people are yearning for liberty and freedom.”

“If the people don’t care, then the best constitution in the world won’t make any difference,” she said.

“The spirit of liberty,” she continued, “has to be in the population.”

Though this is the comment that is going to BLOW UP:

Yet while Ginsburg’s interview, posted on YouTube on Wednesday, lauded the Founding Fathers’ “grand general ideas that become more effective over the course of … more than two sometimes-turbulent centuries,” she also said she “would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” given its original exclusion of women, slaves and Native Americans.

Since World War II several other models have emerged that offer more specific and contemporary guarantees of rights and liberties, she said, pointing to South Africa’s constitution, which she called a “really great piece of work” for its embrace of basic human rights and guarantee of an independent judiciary. She also noted Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms and the European Convention of Human Rights.

“Why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world? I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others,” she said.

Update: Told ya it would blow up.