Nobody puts people in their place quite like the 86-year-old supreme court justice.
The 86-year-old supreme court justice and fearless advocate for equal rights just delivered an epic and perfectly honest comeback to a male politician who criticised her. Speaking to NPR, Ginsburg cast her mind back to her pancreatic cancer diagnosis in 2009, when she underwent surgery to remove a tumour.
“There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months,” Ginsburg said. “That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead. And I,” she added with a smile, “am very much alive.”
What powerful energy this is. Ginsburg understands the salient truth that the only reason to live in this hellfire world is to outlive your enemies. She also understands that revenge is a dish best served cold. That man who gleefully predicted her death? Not only is he long gone, but she can’t even remember his name. And Ginsburg? She is “very much alive”.
And thank goodness for that. Ginsburg is one of the last remaining liberal bastions on the supreme court now that conservative justices including Brett Kavanagh have been appointed to the bench.
What Ginsburg represents, as pointed out in the recent documentary RBG and the Felicity Jones-starring biopic On the Basis of Sex, is a tireless and selfless dedication to equality. As the NPR interview notes, Ginsburg continues to work through tragedy, loss and even her most recent cancer diagnosis, her third in the last two decades.
“The work is really what saved me,” Ginsburg said. “Because I had to concentrate on reading the briefs, doing a draft on an opinion, and I knew it had to get done. So I had to get past whatever my aches and pains were just to do the job.”
Ginsburg was first diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1999, then pancreatic cancer in 2009 and in late 2018 with lung cancer. Throughout them all Ginsburg has thought of the mantra that opera singer Marilyn Horne repeated to herself through her own pancreatic cancer diagnosis. “She said ‘I will live’, not that ‘I hope I live’ or ‘I want to live’, but ‘I will live’,” Ginsburg explained.
Still, Ginsburg added that she misses her late husband Marty every day. His death in 2010 came after he had cared for her through her pancreatic surgery. Ginsburg recalled a moment when, realising that she was receiving an incorrect transfusion, Marty ripped the IV from her arm.
“I might not have lived if he hadn’t been there,” Ginsburg said. “I miss him every morning… I have no-one to go through the papers and pick out what I should read.”