“Ruth Bader Ginsburg” was trending on Twitter Sunday night, and liberals across the Internet panicked.
“My heart stopped for a moment,” tweeted writer Wajahat Ali.
Dedicated RBG fans feared the worst. They refused to look up the news. They prayed. They offered their kidneys.
“I was on my way to the hospital to donate all my organs,” wrote another fan. “Please be alive, please be alive, please be alive …,” tweeted another.
Then, came a collective exhale. Her admirers soon realized that Ginsburg is very much alive, and that the news was that she does not plan on stepping down anytime soon. She said so during a speaking appearance Sunday following a performance in New York of “The Originalist,” a play about the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I’m now 85,” Ginsburg said, according to CNN. “My senior colleague, Justice John Paul Stevens, he stepped down when he was 90, so think I have about at least five more years.”
Is predicting one’s life span among the many powers of a Supreme Court justice? Perhaps not. But Ginsburg’s declaration brought relief to liberal fans who have been obsessing over her health since the beginning of the Trump administration.
To her supporters, Ginsburg does in some ways appear to be an invincible superhero. She has survived both colon and pancreatic cancer. Her widely publicized regular exercise routine, known as the “RBG workout,” includes push-ups, planks and arm curls. Asked about her health in the recent documentary “RBG,” the Supreme Court justice says “she’s proud of keeping herself in shape to do this job.”
Asked last year if she was contemplating retirement, she said, “as long as I can do the job full steam, I will do it.” She has also reportedly hired law clerks through 2020, sending the message that she plans on sticking around.
But there are also those video clips of Ginsburg nodding off during the State of the Union address. She is already five years past the average retirement age of the past 11 justices, and is three years older than retiring justice Anthony M. Kennedy. As a presidential candidate, Trump responded to her public criticism of him by calling on her to resign, tweeting that her “mind is shot.” The president also reportedly predicted he would appoint four Supreme Court justices in his first term.
But her liberal supporters reject that possibility, particularly now that Trump has nominated two conservative justices.
After Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch for the highest court last year, legions of fans fretted over the octogenarian’s fiber intake and exposure to viruses. They suggested she eat more kale. They offered her O-negative blood.
The feminist Jewish blog Lilith in January published “A Prayer for RBG’s Long Life”: “May you go from strength to strength because you have been ours. May you live many more years because you make the world brighter, fairer, kinder. … Because we need you.”
The worries over her health resurfaced last month when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced he would be retiring. Concerned Democrats offered to send her vitamins and medicine.
The justice’s remarks on Thursday gave her fans a vote of confidence:
Sunday’s event in New York was among the many regular public appearances made by the outspoken Supreme Court justice, who is the subject of a new movie, “On the Basis of Sex,” starring Felicity Jones.
“One change in my life is I am now recognized,” she said at Thursday’s event, according to the Guardian. She added that she often responds: “Yes, so many people have told me I look just like her.”
She also spoke about her husband of 56 years, the late Martin D. Ginsburg, a Georgetown University tax law professor.
“My dear spouse used to say the true symbol of the US is not a bald eagle,” Ginsburg said, according to the Guardian. “It is the pendulum.”
“And when it goes very far in one direction,” she continued, “you can count on it coming back.”
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