Reconsidering the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The part the late Justice Ginsburg played in the injustice meted out to Jonathan Pollard is unknown to many. Op-ed.

David Bedein ,

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In her passing, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was touted as a civil rights legend, and as a defender of constitutional liberties.

However, the case of Jonathan Pollard reflects a bias which challenges Ginsburg’s record as an objective jurist, much less a preserver of constitutional rights.

Pollard is now on parole.

His case is no longer under the glare of media scrutiny.

Pollard’s “freedom,” subjected him to nothing more than another term of confinement albeit on less-restrictive terms—complete with surveillance and a variety of other demeaning intrusions, for five years of parole after his release, untill he was finally allowed to come to Israel, where he resides today.

His 30-year imprisonment tragically represents an unprecedented, grossly disproportionate punishment opposed by a broad spectrum of congressional representatives, top White House advisers and other high-level U.S. government officials.

Lawrence Korb, the assistant secretary of defense to Caspar Weinberger at the time of the Pollard affair, published a series of articles revealing the travesty of justice suffered by Pollard.

The fact is that no one alive today knows more about the so-called “intelligence” information, or lack thereof, transferred by Pollard to the Israelis than Korb and former CIA Director James Woolsey—another outspoken supporter of Pollard.

Returning to the enshrinement of Ruth Bader Ginsburg among the pantheon of American civil rights leaders, in 1992 (then sitting on a lower federal appeals court), Ginsburg joined fellow Jewish judge Laurence Silberman in upholding Pollard’s criminal sentence in an opinion which is notable for its dissent—authored by a non-Jewish Judge Stephen Williams.

Saliently, Judge Williams takes the government to task for blatantly violating the terms of Pollard’s plea bargain agreement—Pollard never went to trial, but rather, agreed to plead guilty to a single count of espionage in order to spare his severely ill wife from imprisonment.

Judge Williams aexcoriated the prosecution and the trial judge for poisonously referring to Pollard as having committed “treason,” when in fact, the sole count included in Pollard’s guilty plea involved espionage—that is, passing aid to a friendly nation.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg ignored such injustice when she dismissed Pollard’s case on technical grounds and disregarded the government’s flagrant violation of fundamental constitutional law.

Ginsburg’s judicial conduct during the Pollard case indicates that she should not be venerated among the civil rights legends or esteemed as a defender of constitutional liberties.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s admirers may consider penning a note to Jonathan Pollard.

David Bedein is director of Israel Resource News Agency and heads the Center for Near East Policy Research, author of Genesis of the Palestinian Authority and Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered..