Over her 86½ years on earth, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been lauded as a women's rights pioneer, a Supreme Court justice and a cultural icon. These days, she receives hearty ovations just for staying on the job.
To satisfy some of her liberal allies, she must do that for at least another 16 months.
Fresh off three weeks of radiation treatment for her fourth bout with cancer, the woman fondly known as the "Notorious RBG" is traveling the nation giving speeches, staging conversations and accepting awards and honorary degrees. By demonstrating her vitality before adoring audiences, she hopes to tamp down concerns about her longevity.
"As cancer survivors know, that dread disease is a challenge, and it helps to know that people are rooting for you. Now, it's not universal," she quipped Thursday night at the famed 92nd Street Y in New York City. She vowed to stay on the job "as long as I'm healthy and mentally agile."
The concerns are based on the political calendar. Ginsburg must remain on the nation's highest court at least until January 2021 to avoid giving President Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Senate the opportunity to replace her. Such a doomsday scenario for liberals would give conservatives a 6-3 hold on the high court – solidifying their majority, perhaps for decades to come.
Ginsburg resumes her national hopscotching tour Monday at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C., where she will appear before about 1,600 fans. The following week, she will be at Amherst College in western Massachusetts.
The court's 2019 term begins Oct. 7, briefly keeping Ginsburg in the nation's capital, where her latest accolade was a two-story mural unveiled Monday on a downtown D.C. building. When two weeks of oral arguments are completed, she is scheduled to travel cross country to California.
"It's a travel schedule that would exhaust the rest of us," says Marge Baker, executive vice president of the liberal group People for the American Way. “This is a statement that’s she’s making, and she seems to draw energy from it.”
For years, Ginsburg has traveled and spoken publicly more than most of her colleagues. Before Associate Justice Antonin Scalia's death in 2016, the two ideological opposites occasionally made joint appearances that called attention to their longtime friendship. Ginsburg has made more than 170 public appearances in the last five years; only Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor has done more.
"When I am active, I am much better than when I am just lying about feeling sorry for myself," Ginsburg said at the Yale Club event. "The necessity to get up and go is stimulating."
Monday, September 23, 2019
If I were her age and had suffered the health set backs that she has had, I would not have the energy to be on the speaker circuit. (I don't have that energy now!). But RBG is pretty amazing. From USA Today: