National Press Club

Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg calls for 'sustained dialogue' to calm political climate

November 29, 2016 | By Ferdous Al-Faruque | alfaruque@gmail.com

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg urged reconciliation after the recent divisive presidential campaign at a Nov. 17 Sustained Dialogue Institute event held at the National Press Club.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg urged reconciliation after the recent divisive presidential campaign at a Nov. 17 Sustained Dialogue Institute event held at the National Press Club.

Photo/Image: Ferdous Al-Faruque

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called for a "sustained dialogue" to calm the tense "current climate of our nation" at a recent event held at the National Press Club.

While much of the country was still reeling from a divisive presidential election that often divided friends and family, Ginsburg spoke at a Nov. 17 private gala hosted by the Sustained Dialogue Institute, where she accepted the group's third National Dialogue Award.

Ginsburg stressed the importance of respectfully engaging with people who hold opposing views.

"In the current climate of our nation and the world, sustained dialogue and not shouting matches is sorely needed to enable people to join hands and conceive of a peaceful, just and productive society," she said.

Gala chair Judith Terra said the liberal justice, who has served on the Supreme Court for 23 years, embodied principles and values of true dialogue, reconciliation and peace, and introduced her to the dinner guests as the "Great Notorious R.B.G."

The 83-year-old justice, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton, talked about her close friendship with the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Ginsburg affectionately called "Nino." He died in his sleep earlier this year at the age of 79.

To make her point, Ginsburg shared the plot to Derrick Wang's opera "Scalia and Ginsburg," in which Ginsburg asks to banished along with Scalia in a trial where he is found guilty of "excessive dissenting."

When the judge, who is also the Commentator, is awestruck that Ginsburg would want to share the fate of her enemy, she responds that Scalia is not her enemy but her friend.

In the opera, both Scalia and Ginsburg respond in unison that even though they may disagree, they are unified by their stewardship and reverence for the Constitution.

"Let us hope that all who serve the USA will similarly strive to understand our differences and unite in the common cause of advancing universal ideas of liberty and equality," Ginsburg said.

Other gala attendees included Club President Thomas Burr, Club Vice President Jeff Ballou, former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young and James Billington, Librarian of Congress emeritus.

The Sustained Dialogue Institute states that its mission is to develop leaders who are able address differences and develop peaceful relationships. The two previous recipients of the National Dialogue Award were Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and former Sen. George Mitchell, D-Maine, who served as United States Special Envoys for Northern Ireland and the Middle East.