“Like many pals, Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg could have a pretty good argument now and then, but not let it affect their close friendship.”
— NPR’s All Things Considered. Feb.15, 2016
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. As I write this, I’ve just heard the news. As you read this, some days have passed; but the impact of her departure is almost certainly still being assessed.
One of Justice Ginsburg’s best friends preceded her in death — her former fellow Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed in 2016.
The two couldn’t have been further apart ideologically — she to the far left, him the far right. But they were best friends, dating back to before either of them was on the Supreme Court.
In an interview on FOX News, Justice Scalia’s son, Chris, described how the Scalia’s and Ginsburg’s celebrated each New Year together. He said that Justice Ginsburg and his dad also shared a love of good wine and opera.
The two jurists sat together in the early 1980s when they both served on the federal circuit court in Washington, D.C. Chris said Ginsburg told him that his father would whisper jokes to her during closing arguments and she would have to pinch herself to not laugh.
“I think we were all aware that it publicly seemed like an odd couple, but you know, when they were together, it never felt like that,” Chris Scalia told CBS News. “They obviously held their views very strongly but they didn’t let those very different views undermine their very deep friendship.”
Chris discussed a time when another jurist saw his father taking Justice Ginsburg two dozen roses for her birthday, and he asked Justice Scalia, “Why? How many times has she ever sided with you on a 5-4 decision?”
Justice Scalia’s son said his dad responded, “Some things are more important than votes.”
I grew up during the tumultuous 1960s. Those my age witnessed the tragedy of Vietnam, the losses of JFK, MLK, and Robert Kennedy, and the positivity of finally integrating.
In spite of the negativity of the era that tried to pit us against each other, those in my class worked together. We were a team. We still are.
I have prided myself on living my life by embracing people for who they are, not how they vote. I have friends from all walks of life. All races, all creeds, all nationalities, all orientations, and all political persuasions.
When I hear of others losing their friends over politics, I find that hard to process. And it makes me sad.
I share more with people than I don’t. If you’re reading this, you and I likely don’t see everything the same way. But what we do share — love of our families, a desire for good health, safety, and a hope that we leave the world better than we found it, makes us who we truly are.
I’m saddened by the state of people’s rudderless hatred, and how they treat others. But I don’t think it’s irreversible. As a matter of fact, I know that it’s not.
If we will simply set a small goal of practicing civility, all day, every day, then we are almost there. We can do it. So let’s do it.
Because some things are more important than votes.
We are. All of us.
John’s books, Write of Passage: A Southerner’s View of Then and Now Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, are available on Amazon and on John’s website at TheCountryWriter.com. His weekly John G. Moore Podcast appears on Spotify and iTunes.