She was a Jewish girl raised in Brooklyn. He was an Italian Catholic boy raised in Queens. Both grew to love opera, teaching, traveling, and souvenir shopping. They were opposite ends on the political spectrum.

But they were the best of friends.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia, both Supreme Court justices, enjoyed a relationship with one another that baffled many. Often referred to as “the odd couple”, by their own admission, these two political opposites enjoyed a closeness that defies today’s cultural logic.

They got to know one another in the 1980s as they served together on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit. They viewed the substance of the Constitution differently; Ginsberg saw it as an evolving document as culture shifted, and Scalia believed the Constitution needed to be upheld as the authors intended it, a document outlining the basis of freedom.

Politics, however, never got in the way of their friendship. For years, the two families would celebrate New Year’s Eve together, talking about children, grandchildren, and what sauces best served which food.

Scalia voiced his opinion of their remarkable amicability: “If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake.”

What impresses me is the genuine kindness they had with one another. Even though their politics didn’t agree, they respected each other’s views, allowing graciously for the differences, recognizing that they each were learning from one another. Beyond the disagreements, they had much in common.

They enjoyed one another.

So much so that their commitment to each other was deep. When Judge Roberts announced the death of Justice Ginsberg’s husband, Marty, Justice Scalia openly wept in front of the other justices.

Compassion doesn’t exclude disagreement. It should be strengthened by it.

What these two remarkable individuals discovered is what we often fail to see today; that difference is good. Growth and maturity happen when we engage those who aren’t the same as we are. Disagreement is a springboard for discussion that can cause people to learn more about each other and the world around them.

Too often lately we’ve siloed our attitudes and opinions. Kept them locked in places where they can’t be touched by anything that might cause them to change.

If someone chooses to disagree with us, we too often dismiss them as being irrelevant and nonessential. We put on blinders and plug in our earbuds so all we hear and see is what we want.

That makes for a very narrow point of view.

When God created us each differently, He did so with the idea that none of us is sufficient on our own. Nobody is fully self-contained. We need each other for perspective, to see what we miss, to remind us of what is important.

With the friendship between Justices Ginsberg and Scalia, they enjoyed each other in spite of political dissent. In spite of philosophical differences.

What would it be like if each of us sought to really listen and enjoy those who don’t agree with us? To recognize we don’t know everything and can learn from others.

Maybe we could finally embrace the gift God has given us of difference.

Maybe we could be friends.

8 responses »

  1. Tom Maxwell says:

    Thanks for adding a spiritual side to a remarkable story and friendship that should be heard around the world. I am always amazed at the talent our Lord has given you to take the good in life, grands included, and connect it to goodness in our Lord. A blessed weekend, tom

    Captain Tom Maxwell (USN retired)

    United States NavalAcademy 

    Central Missouri BlueGold Officer (retired) 

    Grandfather’s Journal

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  2. Alice Fredricks says:

    SO needed in today’s world…especially here in the U.S.! Let’s pray to that end!

    • daylerogers says:

      Why is it so hard for us to respect that we’re different? Even in Cru? I’m so stymied by that reality. Is it because I’m older and I’ve seen so much of what doesn’t work? I appreciate your kindness, my friend. As always.

  3. terry morgan says:

    I was so touched by this friendship when I learned about it by watching the movie RBG. You are right – it is a way of connecting with others with compassion and respect that seems missing today and is so very needed. It has challenged me to consider how I treat those who have different ideas and views about things than I do. I’m so glad you wrote this piece, friend. A beautiful message from a beautiful heart.

    • daylerogers says:

      Aw, Ter, thanks. This relationship really amazes me–especially in light of today’s culture and how people are so into cancel culture. I love that they cared so deeply for one another in spite of and in light of their differences. Wish we were all so open-minded and believing the best of others. You are such an encouragement!

  4. Such a needed word for today, Dayle. Especially in America. Seems like people over there just want to bicker and fight over everything any more!

    • daylerogers says:

      You are so right, my friend. The whole Cancel Culture debacle is a heartache, where if you don’t agree with them, they won’t like you or even listen to you. That has to break God’s heart.

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