A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center
FactCheck.org is celebrating 15 years of holding politicians accountable.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Taken Way Out of Context


Quick Take

In a 2012 interview with an Arabic-language television station, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg suggested that as Egypt prepared to write a new constitution, Egyptians look to more recently written constitutions than the United States’.


Full Story

Turning Point USA, a group for young conservatives, has used a fake quote to distort an actual quote.

The group has circulated a meme with a picture of Thomas Jefferson next to a quote that says, “the greatest danger to American freedom is a government that ignores the Constitution.” But he never said that. It’s fake, according to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Pictured above that in the meme is Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a quote that says, “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution.” She did say those words, but they are taken out of context.

When Ginsburg was being interviewed on an Arabic-language television station in 2012, after protests had unseated Egypt’s government, she suggested that the country look to recently written constitutions as it began writing its own new constitution.

This is the whole of what she said on the issue during that interview:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Jan. 30, 2012: You should certainly be aided by all the constitution writing that has gone on since the end of World War II. I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa — that was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. Much more recently than the U.S. Constitution, Canada has the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — dates from 1982. You would almost certainly look at the European Convention on Human Rights. So, yes, why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world?

But the Turning Point USA meme plucked out only eight words, which is misleading on its own. Putting that truncated, out-of-context quote next to a fake quote that suggests she was talking about her own work on the Supreme Court is deceptive.

Still, the meme has been shared 48,000 times from Turning Point USA’s Facebook page alone.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on the social media network.

Sources

Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “The greatest danger to american freedom (Spurious Quotation).” Monticello.org. Accessed 12 Dec 2018.

US SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG TO EGYPTIANS: LOOK TO THE CONSTITUTIONS OF SOUTH AFRICA OR CANADA, NOT TO THE US CONSTITUTION.” Al-Hayat TV. Memri.org. 30 Jan 2012.

Harvard Divinity School. Religious Literacy Project. “The Arab Spring in Egypt.” RLP.HDS.Harvard.edu. Accessed 13 Dec 2018.

Share the Facts
9
1
11
FactCheck.org rating logo FactCheck.org Rating:
Distorts the Facts
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “I would not look to the U.S. Constitution.”
Thursday, October 11, 2018