Ruth Bader Ginsburg: America is great because ‘it is receptive to all people’

Michael Kovac/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a large crowd that had gathered to see her Thursday that the U.S. is not at its best right now because "we are not as mindful of what makes America great."

Ginsburg also said that "it makes a great difference” to have three women on the Supreme Court.

“We are one-third of the court. And we look like we are here to stay,” she said, noting that anyone who has observed her arguments knows that her colleagues Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan “are not shrinking violets.”

Ginsburg was expanding on comments she made about the state of the country to a packed and enthusiastic auditorium at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., alongside the co-authors of her book, My Own Words during a Newseum event, which was moderated by NPR's Nina Totenberg.

She went on to say that what makes America great is “the right to speak one’s mind” and the “idea of our nation being receptive to all people, welcoming all people."

Her comments come at a time when the Trump administration has sparked anger over its policies on refugees and immigration enforcement.

"Yes, we've had times in U.S. history like the time of the 'America First' movement, when anyone who wasn’t born and bred in the USA was considered an outcast. But for the most part those are our ideals - the treasured First Amendment and the notion that in our nation we are many and yet we are one,” Ginsburg said.

In his inaugural speech, Trump promised to put “America first,” noting that "every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families."

Ginsburg said that despite the current climate she remains optimistic about the future of what she said will be a welcoming America, noting that she benefited from being the child of immigrants.

She also said that she has no second thoughts on her decision not to retire during the Obama administration in order to ensure a liberal justice could be appointed.

“I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam. And when I can’t, that will be the time to step down,” she said.

In fact, she said the politicization of the Supreme Court nomination process in recent years is “not the way it should be,” pointing out that Justice Antonin Scalia had not had a single “no” vote and she only received three.

As for the new Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Ginsburg didn’t have much to say.

"I know him I've worked with him. And I think he's very easy to get along with. He writes very well," she said to laughter from the crowd.

Ginsburg pointed out that she is almost 84 but said that she’s here to stay as well. She credited her personal trainer for her longevity, who keeps her fit with an exercise routine of planks and push-ups. She also marveled at her recently acquired nickname, “The Notorious R.B.G.”

“It is really beyond extraordinary that I’m 84 years old and everyone wants to take a picture with me,” she said of the nickname, which is a spoof on the stage name of the late rapper The Notorious B.I.G. “We have a lot in common, we were both born and bred in Brooklyn, N.Y.”

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Passenger who forced Honolulu emergency landing tells FBI ‘we all have’ terroristic thoughts

Passenger who forced Honolulu emergency landing tells FBI 'we all have' terroristic thoughtsiStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) -- The Turkish national who forced the emergency landing of American Airlines flight 31 in Honolulu on Friday allegedly told FBI agents "we all have" terroristic ideas, and pantomimed shooting an agent during his interview, according to a criminal complaint filed in Hawaii on Monday.

En route from Los Angeles to Honolulu, 25-year-old Anil Uskanli alarmed passengers and crewmembers while acting "strange," forcing the pilot lock down the flight deck and prompting the U.S. Pacific Command to send two F-22 fighter jets to escort the aircraft into Hawaii.

F22's taking off from Honolulu to escort American Airlines flight 31 #Hawaii pic.twitter.com/8cauepQ7Yt

— Anthony Quintano 🌴 (@AnthonyQuintano) May 19, 2017

"We all have those ideas," he said when asked if he ever had terroristic thoughts.

According to the complaint, Uskanli boarded the plane without any luggage, carrying only a phone, laptop, charger, and miscellaneous items in his pockets.

Not long after he was arrested for misdemeanor trespassing at LAX after breaching a security door while under the influence, crew escorted him down the jet bridge in a wheelchair.

Once aboard the Airbus 321, he plopped into a seat in first class. At a flight attendant's repeated urging, Uskanli eventually moved to 35B, his assigned seat.

After the flight took off, Uskanli began repeatedly moving his laptop from the seatback pocket to the space under the seat, "uttering things and talking to himself," one passenger told FBI agents.

He then got up to use the lavatory, but failed to lock the door, the complaint adds. When another passenger attempted to enter the lavatory, Uskanli allegedly began "yelling and pounding on the walls."

After flight attendants escorted him back to his seat, they found what appeared to be cigarette pieces around the toilet.

A short time later, Uskanli "wrapped a blanket around his head, picked up his laptop," and shuffled towards the front of the aircraft.

A flight attendant used a beverage cart to block the aisle, but Uskanli shoved back, then set his laptop on the cart, triggering immediate alarm among the crew. The flight attendant was concerned following reports that terrorists are attempting to target aircraft with explosives concealed inside electronics, the complaint explains.

While an off-duty law enforcement officer steered Uskanli back to his seat, a flight attendant barricaded the laptop in the rear of the aircraft -- standard procedure for handling a possible explosive device. To further mitigate the impact of a potential in-flight bomb, the pilot descended to 5,000 feet, according to the complaint.

Uskanli was restrained with duct tape, witnesses say.

Upon landing, Uskanli was escorted off the flight by law enforcement, and bomb technicians and canine units seized the laptop and secured the plane. No explosives were found inside the laptop, authorities say.

Uskanli's urinalysis came back positive for benzodiazepine. Other field sobriety tests indicated he may have been high on stimulants or cannabis, according to the complaint.

During a post-incident interview with FBI agents, Uskanli "made a gun shape with his fingers and pretended to shoot,"simulated a ‘chopping motion’" at an agent's neck, and threatened to kill a female agent, according to the complaint.

Asked if he planned to hurt anyone, he told agents, "it depends on the day."

He was charged with interfering with a flight crew, and was scheduled to appear in court Monday.

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