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Which Supreme Court Justice Said, 'If I Had My Way There Would Be No Death Penalty'?


"I can say I won’t participate in those cases, [but] then I would not be an influence."

Supreme Court Justice, and opera aficionado, Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in a panel discussion, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012, during the American Bar Association's annual meeting in Chicago. Ginsburg was joined other panelists as they listened to performances of arias in an unusual discussion of the lessons operatic performance can bring to the law. Credit: AP

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg listens to a question during a speaking engagement at Yale University in New Haven, Conn., Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. (Photo: AP)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was speaking about her love of opera music with New York's WQXR radio program earlier this week when, somehow, the death penalty came up.

According to Think Progress, she said she would abolish it if she was the one making the rules:

"Every time I have to participate in a case where someone has been sentenced to death, I feel that same conflict.  But...when you're with a group of nine people, the highest court in the land, you can’t pretend to be king or queen.  If I had my way, there would be no death penalty.  But the death penalty for now, is the law.  And I could say, 'Well, I won’t participate in those cases.'  But then I can't be an influence."  [Emphasis added]

Ginsburg has long opposed the death penalty, but has typically shied away from "absolute" statements like some of her predecessors in order to remain a voice on the matter.

But this is not the first time she has spoken out against American laws.

Last February, for instance, she told a group of Egyptians that they should look to the South African Constitution rather than the one she has sworn to uphold in crafting the post-Arab Spring law of the land.

The rest of the WQXR interview largely focused on Ginsburg's love of music, Thomson Reuters adds.

“People ask me, ‘If you could be whatever you want to be, what would you be?’  And my first answer is not, ‘A great lawyer.'  It is, ‘I would be a great diva,’" she joked.  "But I totally lack that talent, so the next best thing is the law.”

Here's audio of the interview (skip to around 10:45)



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