Washington CNN  — 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came to the defense of her more conservative colleagues on the bench, Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.

“I can say that my two newest colleagues are very decent and very smart individuals,” she said Wednesday at an event in Washington, D.C., hosted by Duke Law as she answered questions from Neil Siegel, a law professor and one of her former law clerks.

Now that the Supreme Court term has ended, Ginsburg, 86, has been pushing back against criticism of the court, saying in a recent interview with NPR that the nine justices work well together and rebutted the idea that the Supreme Court is a partisan institution, according to the news outlet.

The comments to NPR from Ginsburg – who earlier this year took a break from the court after undergoing cancer surgery – come amid concerns from progressives that her death or retirement would give President Donald Trump an opportunity to replace a reliably liberal seat on the court with a conservative justice. Ginsburg has sought in recent days to signal that her health is stable and she has no plans to step down with the court facing major issues in its next session on immigration, gun control, gay rights and possibly abortion.

Kavanaugh was sworn in on October 6, following a contentious confirmation hearing inflamed by allegations of sexual assault against him. Kavanaugh replaced retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been the court’s swing vote.

Gorsuch took his seat on April 10, 2017, filling the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Both were nominated to the Supreme Court by Trump.

Ginsburg has previously praised Kavanaugh for helping the court achieve a historic first.

“There is a very important first on the Supreme Court this term, and it’s thanks to our new justice, Justice Kavanaugh, whose entire staff is all women. All of his law clerks are women,” she said earlier this month at a event held by Georgetown Law. “And with his four women as law clerks, it’s the first time in the history of the United States that there have been more women clerking at the court than men.”