A Brilliant Bond Born

Between Justice Ginsburg and Justice Scalia


Aviva Blumenthal, Staff Writer

Friendship: a word of many meanings. Ranging from a run in at a coffee shop to two people who share the same seat on our country’s most esteemed court, no matter where a friendship is rooted, it always has a sense of magic, and unity amongst all. In the bond of friendship, the differences that once made individuals feel divided are forgotten, replaced with an overarching sense of hope and kindness. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia shared this magical form of friendship, proving to the world that sometimes all it takes is a little opera and laughter to create something unique. 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia were two powerful judges who formed a memorable friendship despite their opposing political views. Scalia was a conservative and Ginsburg was more so liberal. The differences between the two judges did not end at their political values. Ginsburg was petite whereas Scalia was burly. She was soft spoken and he was bold. It seemed as though a friendship couldn’t possibly be formed between the two, yet somehow the pair still managed to compose a blossoming friendship. 

The vivacious friendship began when Ginsburg watched Scalia’s speech at the American Bar Association. Although Ginsburg disagreed with Scalia’s thesis, she spoke of him highly, as she reflected in 2014, “he said it in an absolutely captivating way.” This was the start of a friendship in which opposites really did attract. Ginsburg’s early positive remarks on Scalia’s speech with which she disagreed shed light on the meaningful basis of their friendship, the respect for one’s passion yet disagreement on their political viewpoint. “What’s not to like?” Scalia once said of Ginsburg at an interview at George Washington University in 2015,  “Except her views on the law.” Their disagreements were not an unusual occurrence when it came to law. The two judges fought a good amount, something that can be expected when interacting with those on opposing partisan sides. Despite this, they always stuck with their main philosophy: agreeing to disagree. “I disagreed with most of what he said, but I loved the way he said it,” Ginsburg said in 2015. Ginsburg and Scalia proved to all that love can overcome politics. Many were moved by their bond, and in fact, they received the Civility Award from Allegheny College April 10th 2017 honoring the respectful exchange among lawmakers according to Allegheny College. When Ginsburg accepted the award, she explained her desire to find a common ground.  In saying, “Let us hope that they — and others of goodwill — will lead in restoring harmonious work,” RBG was asking us for the bare minimum; to see individuals who have different values as humans and not politicians. 

Ginsburg and Scalia did not only share a respect for each other’s passion for politics, but something even more unique: laughter. The two shared a joyful interview together in 2015 in Washington DC, during which the moderator Nina Totenberg emphasized how their friendship was revealed that night through jokes and compliments. In the interview, Ginsburg explained how she had fallen asleep at the 2015 State of the Union Address, saying how she thought she would absolutely not drink wine that night, “But in the end, the dinner was so delicious it needed wine to accompany it.” Scalia then jokingly added, “”That’s the first intelligent thing you’ve done.” Another amusing exchange between the two once occurred during a lecture together when discussing their infamous trip to India. Scalia mentioned how Ginsburg’s “feminist friends” were upset about the fact that she had ridden behind him on an elephant ride, a moment that she commemorated with a photograph that sat on her office desk; Ginsburg clapped back that “[It was] a matter of distribution of weight.” The pair’s ability to share a joke demonstrates a true and genuine friendship regardless of their political viewpoints.

Ginsburg and Scalia were “best buddies,” according to Ginsburg after Scalia’s passing in 2016. The friendship the two justices shared is an exceptional demonstration of humanity. They set an example for our future generations to start seeing one another as friends, equals and humans, as opposed to adversaries based on political party lines. Although both of these important figures have passed, their legacy will last a lifetime.