Ne regrettez rien

So Ginsburg took it back.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court on Thursday expressed regret for her recent remarks about the candidacy of Donald J. Trump, saying they were “ill-advised.”

“On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them,” Justice Ginsburg said in a statement on Thursday. “Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect.”

In general, they should. But a potential Hitler isn’t “in general.” Hitler didn’t run on a platform of killing all the Jews, after all. German voters didn’t know that was what they were voting for. He was just an ordinary anti-Semite and right-winger when he ran, albeit one with a history of violence and a prison record. It’s not safe to assume that Trump won’t really be the racist bully he seems to be if he gets elected. It’s not safe to assume he’ll be sobered by the responsibility if that happens. So I’m not convinced RBG was wrong to deviate from the usual custom for judges.

Few legal experts had expected Justice Ginsburg to offer the apology that Mr. Trump demanded. Justices typically remain largely out of the public eye and are insulated from political pressures and news media coverage that can compel action.

But the torrent of criticism, especially from supporters and allies of Justice Ginsburg, appears to have pierced that protection.

Former Justice Antonin Scalia, who died this year, was often the target of demands for apologies for his acerbic comments from the bench or in speeches. They generally did not materialize, though the justice did apologize to reporters in 2004 after a deputy federal marshal ordered them to destroy recordings of a half-hour speech by Justice Scalia at a Mississippi high school.

At least RBG didn’t say she would be more circumspect “going forward.”

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