Ohio's State Solicitor Recalls Ginsburg/Scalia Friendship He Saw In Person

Sep 21, 2020

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia were known as close friends, though they were ideological opposites.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died this weekend of complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Her close friend Justice Antonin Scalia was the most recent justice to die in office, in February 2106. His death set off a battle between Senate Democrats pressing for President Obama’s choice to replace Scalia to get a hearing, and majority Republicans who contended that the president elected in November should be the one to choose Scalia’s replacement. Those arguments are being cited again with the passing of Justice Ginsburg.

Ohio’s state solicitor Ben Flowers works in the Attorney General’s office representing the state before the U.S. Supreme Court, courts of appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court. Flowers clerked for Scalia for a year in 2015.

Flowers said in that year, he saw first-hand how highly the two justices thought of each other.

“Their respect for one another really was something that left an impression on me in the year I spent clerking for Justice Scalia because you saw an example of two people at the very, very pinnacle of their careers who could learn so much and wanted to learn so much by interacting with those who disagreed with them," Flowers said.

Flowers said Ginsburg leaves behind a legacy of work that was well underway before she came to the bench, especially her work for women's rights in the 1970s.

“Justice Scalia at one point referred to her as the Thurgood Marshall of the women's rights movement. And that's a very apt description," Flowers said. "She was an advocate for the equal treatment of women from early on and really a pioneer in that field long before she took the bench."

Ginsburg became a Supreme Court Justice in 1993. Flowers noted Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas had served with Ginsburg for decades, so for them, "I think it would be a tremendous loss, not only of a respected colleague, but of a friend."