RBG Gets Last Laugh Recalling Dead Senator Who Gleefully Predicted Her Death

Supreme Court

In an interview published Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fondly recalled a former senator who predicted her untimely death, telling NPR with a smile, “That senator…is now himself dead, and I am very much alive.”

Ginsburg was apparently referring to comments made by the late Republican Sen. Jim Bunning, of Kentucky, who predicted in 2009 that the justice, who was recovering from pancreatic cancer at the time, would be leaving a vacancy on the bench within nine months.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported at the time that Bunning said (emphasis mine:

During a wide-ranging 30-minute speech on Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner, Bunning said he supports conservative judges “and that’s going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg … has cancer.”
“Bad cancer. The kind that you don’t get better from,” he told a crowd of about 100 at the old State Theater.
“Even though she was operated on, usually, nine months is the longest that anybody would live after (being diagnosed) with pancreatic cancer,” he said.

Bunning later apologized “if my comments offended Justice Ginsberg [sic]” and said he hoped she recovered quickly. She ended up returning to work 18 days after surgery.

In her NPR interview, Ginsburg, either out of shade or genuine forgetfulness, couldn’t recall Bunning’s name. But she took quite a bit of pleasure from recalling that she had outlived such an asshole in the first place. Bunning died in 2017, at the age of 85. Ginsburg is 86. From NPR, emphasis mine:

“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 recalled. “That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I,” she added with a smile, “am very much alive.”

Even if you detest her cult celebrity status, Ginsburg getting the last laugh on this one is pretty great.

But in unrelated, much less Girl Boss-y RBG news, Ginsburg also told NPR that she opposes court packing and term limits for Supreme Court justices. Specifically, she said that she considers term limits “unrealistic” and said packing the court would make it “look partisan.” Because, sure, there’s no way the court looks partisan now.

“Nine seems to be a good number. It’s been that way for a long time,” she told NPR. “I think it was a bad idea when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to pack the court.”

Problematic fave, amirite!

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