Did RBG Disqualify Herself From Texas Abortion Case?

September 28th, 2014

In a wide-ranging interview with Jeff Rosen, Justice Ginsburg seemed to weigh in on a Texas abortion case currently pending before the 5th Circuit:

JR: So how can advocates make sure that poor women’s access to reproductive choice is protected? Can legislatures be trusted or is it necessary for courts to remain vigilant?

RBG: How could you trust legislatures in view of the restrictions states are imposing? Think of the Texas legislation that would put most clinics out of business. The courts can’t be trusted either.

It seems that Justice Ginsburg has made up her mind about this law. It is not a health measure, but a law to put clinics out of business. This would be a per se “undue burden” under Casey. She doesn’t trust the Texas legislature in the least.

Also, Justice Ginsburg doesn’t think much of the courts deciding these cases. They “can’t be trusted either.”

This case may be up for certiorari in the not-too-distant future. Is this a ground for disqualification? Seems like it.

Update: In response to comment below about the fact that Scalia, Ginsburg, and others have commented about abortion before, I wrote:

What makes this comment so problematic is that she referred to a specific law that is currently before the 5th Circuit, and will be appealed to SCOTUS one way or the other. Scalia and GInsburg have talked about abortion and the death penalty ad nauseum for decades, but it was always framed in terms of the issues they discussed in their dissents–not specific cases that may come before the Court. RBG’s comments seem akin to Scalia’s comments about the pledge of allegiance while the Newdow litigation was making its way through the lower courts. Scalia did recuse there.