US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg apologised on Thursday for publicly disparaging Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as a phoney with a big ego.
The left-leaning 83-year-old judge shocked the US political establishment with her remarks: On Monday, she called Trump “a faker” who “says whatever comes into his head at the moment”.
She also told The New York Times in an interview published last weekend that she “can’t imagine” what the United States under Trump as president would be like.
“On reflection, my recent remarks in response to press inquiries were ill-advised and I regret making them,” Ginsburg said in a statement issued on Thursday.
“Judges should avoid commenting on a candidate for public office. In the future I will be more circumspect,” she added.
In response to the criticism, Trump had suggested the judge was getting senile and should step down.
“Justice Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court has embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot - resign!” he tweeted on Wednesday.
Ginsburg drew widespread ire from Republicans for breaking with a code of conduct under which US judges are not supposed to publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for office.
The Washington Post and The New York Times both ran editorials saying she had erred.
Ginsburg, seen as a tough-as-nails figure, was appointed to the court in 1993 by then president Bill Clinton, a Democrat, and is the darling of the progressive community in America, especially young people.
She has lots of clout. Last year, she was named to Time’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the world.
As a lawyer, Ginsburg was a pillar of the fight for women’s rights in the 1960s and ‘70s. She has survived cancer several times.
But her departure from judicial custom in slamming Trump raised eyebrows everywhere, even among ideological allies.
The Washington Post, which rarely goes easy on Trump, said in an editorial that while it may agree with what Ginsburg said about him, her candor was “inconsistent with her function in our democratic system”.
The New York Times offered a similar editorial, saying, “Washington is more than partisan enough without the spectacle of a Supreme Court justice flinging herself into the mosh pit.”