The United States is “not experiencing the best of times,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told the BBC in an interview published Thursday, but she remains confident that the nation will eventually shift back towards the center.
Ginsburg, who was harshly critical of President Donald Trump during the election and later expressed regret for those comments, pointedly avoided any direct criticism of the White House.
“We are not experiencing the best of times,” Ginsburg told the BBC. “I am optimistic in the long run. A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle. It is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction it will go back.”
As an example, Ginsburg noted the government’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, a decision she called “dreadful,” and one that the U.S. later sought to rectify by offering compensation to those who had been interned.
While she did not openly attack Trump or his policies, she did offer praise for the press, a frequent target of the president’s ire. She was also critical of Congress, telling the BBC that “our legislature, which is the first branch of government, is right now not working.”
At a separate speaking appearance Thursday night at George Washington University, Ginsburg was somewhat more direct, remarking that “we are not as mindful of what makes America great,” according to NBC News. She also expressed a desire that the Senate return to a tradition of bipartisan confirmation for Supreme Court justices, noting that she had been confirmed with just three votes against her and conservative justice Antonin Scalia was confirmed unanimously.
How much longer Ginsburg, the oldest justice currently serving on the Supreme Court as well as one of its most reliably liberal, will serve has been a source of growing speculation. She has said in the past that she intends to retire when she can no longer “do the job full steam,” a sentiment that she reiterated in her interview published Thursday.
“At my age you have to take it year by year. I know I’m OK. What will be next year?” she said. “I’m hopeful however, because my most senior colleague the one who most recently retired, Justice John Paul Stevens, stepped down at age 90. So I have a way to go.”