Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the Court's twin 5-4 decisions narrowly construing plaintiffs' remedies for workplace discrimination in open court today -- an unusual step taken only when the dissenting justice believes that the majority opinion has erred in fundamental ways. As this 80-year-old scholar and pioneer of equality law read her opinion, Justice Samuel Alito repeatedly smirked and rolled his eyes . As Garrett Epps put it in the Atlantic here:
Alito pursed his lips, rolled his eyes to the ceiling, and shook his head "no." He looked for all the world like Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, signaling to the homies his contempt for Ray Walston as the bothersome history teacher, Mr. Hand.
Or as Dana Milbank put it in the Washington Post
The associate justice, a George W. Bush appointee, read two opinions, both 5-4 decisions that split the court along its usual right-left divide. But Alito didn’t stop there. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read her dissent from the bench, Alito visibly mocked his colleague.Also here
Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court, was making her argument about how the majority opinion made it easier for sexual harassment to occur in the workplace when Alito, seated immediately to Ginsburg’s left, shook his head from side to side in disagreement, rolled his eyes and looked at the ceiling.
With Justice Alito, we had reason to know exactly what we were getting in terms of ideology and partisan inclination. But the sneering derision for his colleagues -- at least some of them -- is something that should not be hidden from public view.