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As the debate continues to rage over Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's criticism of Trump -- with some critics joining Trump in his call for the liberal justice to resign -– it’s worth remembering that justices have frequently injected themselves into the politics of the day. And like Ginsburg, they have come under intense scrutiny because of it. Ginsburg apologized Wednesday and promised to be more circumspect going forward.
That time a Supreme Court justice ran for president: In the early 20th century, Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes declared he would make a bid for the nation’s highest office. He was, in fact, still a justice when he became the GOP presidential nominee in 1916. While he resigned from the court to pursue his bid (and eventually lost), he later became chief justice.
That time a Supreme Court justice's bias was overheard: Sandra Day O’Connor came under fire in 2000 after she was overheard saying “this is terrible” at an election night party when it appeared that Democrat Al Gore had won. The moderately conservative justice’s husband consequently told guests that she wanted to retire but wasn’t willing to do so if it meant her successor would be appointed by a Democratic president. O’Connor then famously became the fifth Supreme Court vote to install George W. Bush as president.
That time a Supreme Court justice went hunting with the VP: The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia came under fire in 2004 after he went duck hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney in Louisiana -– just weeks after the court said it would hear a case involving the vice president’s energy task force. Critics argued that such trips hindered Scalia’s ability to judge the case impartially. At the time, Scalia argued he had done nothing wrong. “It did not involve a lawsuit against Dick Cheney as a private individual,” he said.
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That time a Supreme Court justice criticized the VP: At a fundraiser for the conservative magazine American Spectator, Justice Samuel Alito went after then-Vice President-elect Joe Biden in 2008 over allegations of plagiarism in law school. “In the spirit of the vice president-elect, I want to honor the copyright laws,” he said.
That time a Supreme Court justice showed up the president's State of the Union address: Alito also was criticized in 2010 when he openly disagreed with President Obama during his State of the Union address. Alito was seen shaking his head and mouthing “not true” when the president criticized the high court’s ruling removing corporate campaign spending limits.
That time a Supreme Court justice's wife essentially joined the tea party: Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas’ impartiality was called into question in 2010 after his wife launched a tea party-linked lobbying group dedicated to spotlighting the “tyranny” of President Obama and congressional Democrats. Thomas also officiated longtime pal and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh’s third wedding.