Following are excerpts
from an interview with US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
which aired on Al-Hayat TV on January 30, 2012.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
It is a very inspiring time - that you have overthrown a dictator, and
that you are striving to achieve a genuine democracy. So I think people
in the United States are hoping that this transition will work, and
that there will genuinely be a government of, by, and for the people.
I met with the head of
the elections commission. I think that the first step has gone well,
and that elections have been held for the lower house that everyone
has considered to be free and fair. So that's one milestone, and the
next will be the drafting of a constitution.
I can't speak about what
the Egyptian experience should be, because I'm operating under a rather
old constitution. The United States, in comparison to Egypt, is a very
new nation, and yet we have the oldest written constitution still in
force in the world.
Let me say first that
a constitution, as important as it is, will mean nothing unless the
people are yearning for liberty and freedom. If the people don't care,
then the best constitution in the world won't make any difference. So
the spirit of liberty has to be in the population, and then the constitution
- first, it should safeguard basic fundamental human rights, like our
First Amendment, the right to speak freely, and to publish freely, without
the government as a censor.
You should certainly
be aided by all the constitution-writing that has gone one since the
end of World War II. I would not look to the US constitution, if I were
drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution
of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental
instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent
judiciary... It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done.
Much more recent than the US constitution - Canada has a Charter of
Rights and Freedoms. It dates from 1982. You would almost certainly
look at the European Convention on Human Rights. Yes, why not take advantage
of what there is elsewhere in the world?