Constitutional Law

Ginsburg Appears on Egyptian TV, Talks About Constitution Writing


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrapped up a trip to Egypt with an appearance on Egyptian TV, where in a lengthy interview she discussed the U.S. Constitution and whether it should be a model for Egypt.

While urging that the U.S. Constitution be used as inspiration, Ginsburg said Egyptians should look to other countries with newer constitutions for guidance, the Huffington Post reports.

“Let me say first, that a constitution, as important as it is, will mean nothing unless the people are yearning for liberty and freedom,” Ginsburg said in the 18-minute interview with Al Hayat TV, which is posted on YouTube. “If the people don’t care, then the best constitution in the world won’t make any difference.”

Ginsburg was in Egypt to meet with judges, legal experts, law faculty and students in Cairo and Alexandria. According to the U.S. Embassy, she was there to “‘listen and learn’ with her Egyptian counterparts as they begin Egypt’s constitutional transition to democracy,” the Huffington Post notes.

On the television program, in a response to a question about drafting a constitution in the modern era, Ginsburg said she would not look to the U.S. Constitution when drafting in the year 2012 because it excluded women, slaves and Native Americans.

Rather, those writing constitutions should look at all constitution writing since World War II. She pointed specifically to the South African constitution and Canada’s charter of rights and freedoms as good modern examples.

“Why not take advantage of what there is elsewhere in the world? I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others,” she said.

The Huffington Post reports that no other justice on the current high court has publicly advised another country on the creation of a constitution.

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