It seems that 2020 keeps packing in the surprises. We still have a little over 3 months left before we can say it's over, and I'm not even going to ask, "What ELSE could go wrong?"
The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a mild surprise to me, knowing how sick she had been. I just assumed that the spunky little lady would make it into the next presidential term. For some reason the gal always had a way of making me smile when she sat down for interviews.
Her relationship with the now deceased Justice Antonin Scalia is was what I'll probably remember her the most for. Their friendship probably stands out to me as one of the most important accomplishments of the two of them. In today's world, you dare not share with even some of your dearest friends where you stand politically. Yet these two sat in the most important seats in our country, obviously disagreeing on the most important topics of the day, yet remained the dearest of friends.
I like to think that there are more friendships like this in the world. However, a glance at the monster known as Facebook makes it abundantly clear that a lot of us aren't that mature. At the notion that we disagree politically, we are willing to throw out the baby, bathwater, bathtub, and even the whole bathroom over thoughts and ideas.
Some of us aren't wired to care one way or the other about politics. Sometimes, I almost envy you. Some of the rest of us are thrilled at the idea of political debate and can't wait to see what the other side has to offer for the reasoning behind their stance.
Ginsberg and Scalia were able to put aside their staunch beliefs and find mutual respect. Thrown together in the 80s, the two grew up in New York, although from different areas. Both came to the position as Chief Justices on opposite sides of most issues. The two however, were able to forge a relationship outside of work. The Ginsberg and Scalia couples were known to spend time together on New Year's Eve, welcoming the New Year and spent time in each other's homes sharing meals, swapping recipes and stories.
Ironically at work, the two would sometimes share their final opinions. Often zeroing in on the soft spots or weak arguments of the other, the closing remarks were made stronger. I doubt there will be another friendship quite like this one.
A healthy debate in our country so divided is necessary. It's communication at its best. Justice Scalia had ordered a couple dozen roses for Ginsberg's birthday one year, and a colleague found it odd since they rarely agreed. To his credit Scalia said, "Some things are more important than votes." I'd say most everything is more important than votes.
Ginsberg shared a story at Scalia's funeral. She said when asked how the two could be such good friends, she said with a grin, "He answered, I attack ideas, I don't attack people. Some very good people have some very bad ideas," to which the crowd erupted in laughter and she gave one of the biggest smiles as she waited for the laughter to subside. She continued to quote Scalia, "and if you can't separate the two, you have to get a different day job."
The two didn't agree on how to interpret the law, but they both had a respect for the position that they held and its importance to the United States. More importantly they respected each other.
While I'm not familiar with all of the cases that she won, or all of the battles she fought, I am familiar with the class with which she carried herself. Something often missing today.
These two justices were intellectual enemies, but rather than feel threatened, they used that as a springboard for their relationship.
Against all of the crowd think of today, igore the politics of your neighbor. Pull out the grill and throw on some burgers. You can still disagree, but there's no reason that we can't all be Ginsberg and Scalia Friends.
Justices Scalia and Ginsberg, thanks for showing us how it should be done.