Ruth Bader Ginsburg jokes about a senator who wanted her dead: 'That senator ... is now himself dead, and I am very much alive'

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesSupreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
  • Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joked about how a senator once happily declared that she would be dead within several months.
  • That senator was Republican Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who died in 2017.
  • Ginsburg laughed off the comment in a recent interview, noting that she is “very much alive.”
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Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg laughed off comments from a senator who predicted she would be dead after her first scare with cancer back in 2009, saying in an interview released Wednesday that she is “very much alive” while he is now dead.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Ginsburg mentioned former Republican Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who died in 2017, though she could not remember his name.

Bunning had quipped in 2009, when Ginsburg was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, that conservative judges would “going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg … has cancer.”


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“Bad cancer. The kind you don’t get better from,” Bunning added. “Even though she was operated on, usually nine months is the longest that anybody would live after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”

But Ginsburg had the last laugh.

“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,” she said. “That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I am very much alive.”

Ginsburg noted how cancer problems have been remedied by sticking to her heavy workload on the Supreme Court, suggesting it helps with any physical complications.

“The work is really what saved me,” Ginsburg said. “Because I had to concentrate on reading the briefs, doing a draft of 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.”

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