Civil Dialogue and Citizenship

Navigating Our Deepest Differences

Lesson I. A More Perfect Union and Political Differences

Step 5. Friends and Icons

Friendship Across Political Divides: Justices Scalia and Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court. Many considered her a Liberal icon for her unwavering fight for women’s rights and social justice in American society. Her colleague, Justice Antonin Scalia, was similarly held as an icon, but among Conservatives for his emphasis on the text and original meaning of the Constitution. The two justices consistently disagreed in their opinions for the Court, but they famously forged a close friendship. Watch this PBS Newshour report made at the passing of Justice Ginsburg highlighting her friendship with Justice Scalia. Note that Justice Scalia often said he attacked ideas, not people, which was how he and Justice Ginsburg could be such close friends. 


When Justice Scalia passed away in 2016, Justice Ginsburg wrote a memorial about how she and Justice Scalia were different, but could still be one. She wrote: 

Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: “We are different, we are one,” different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve.

See her full memorial at this link.

Write your response to the question below on your own paper.

How could two people who had such different political opinions both love the Constitution and the United States Supreme Court?

Lesson I. Step 5 of 6


Learn more about how to promote the 3Rs — rights, responsibility, respect — in your school and community.