When President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, former Vice President Joe Biden, then a Democratic senator, chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee with a Democrat Senate majority.

Mindful that Ginsburg could be perceived as out of the mainstream of American law – she had once argued for legalizing prostitution, against separate prisons for men and women and raised the possibility of a right to polygamy – Biden prescribed certain rules for questioning nominees.

Biden’s most significant rule, which has since come to be known as the “Ginsburg Rule,” stipulated that nominees are under no obligation to answer questions regarding their personal views or about any issue that might conceivably come before the court.

Naturally, Republican members of the Judiciary Committee wanted to know whether Ginsburg still held such radical views. But Ginsburg religiously adhered to Biden’s Rule, refusing to answer questions on important matters such as funding for school vouchers, the religion clause of the First Amendment and homosexual rights. The senators were stymied in their efforts to obtain even a hint of her position on these and similar public issues because she said that doing so might compromise her impartiality in cases likely to come before the court.

Near the close of the hearing, Ginsburg explained: “My own views and what I would do if I were sitting in the legislature are not relevant to the job for which you are considering me, which is the job of a judge.”

Despite Ginsburg’s refusal to answer consequential questions posed to her by members of the Judiciary Committee, she received 93 “yea” votes for confirmation to the court.

By urging Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to ask the “hard questions” (Portland Press Herald, July 5), are liberal activists suggesting that the nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court violate the Code of Judicial Conduct by indicating how he or she will vote on a particular issue that may come before the court?

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