Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she’s on her way “to being very well” after receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Speaking at the 2019 Library of Congress National Book Festival, Ginsburg told a crowd gathered in Washington, DC, on Saturday, “As this audience can see I am alive. And I’m on my way to being very well.” She was met with thunderous applause.
The US Supreme Court announced on August 23 that physicians had discovered a malignancy on Ginsburg’s pancreas and that she subsequently had three weeks of radiation treatment. “The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” the court said. Despite the treatment, the 86-year-old has made a series of recent public appearances and continues to travel.
Ginsburg told the crowd Saturday that she’ll be ready for the start of the next Supreme Court session, saying, “We have more than a month yet to go. I will be prepared when the time comes.’
Asked by NPR’s Nina Totenberg how she keeps on “truckin,” Ginsburg credited her job on the Supreme Court.
“I love my job. It’s the best and the hardest job that I have ever had. It’s kept me going through four cancer bouts,” Ginsburg said. “Instead of concentrating on my aches and pains, I just know that I have to read this set of briefs, go over the draft opinion.”
She added, “I have to somehow surmount whatever is going on in my body and concentrate on the court’s work.”
The health of the senior liberal on an ideologically-split Supreme Court has been a recurring subject of public interest as the bench has become increasingly conservative under President Donald Trump. The high court – on which conservatives hold the majority 5-4 – is poised to transform the law in America, but the left has worked to minimize the rollback of liberal precedents from earlier decades, including to preserve abortion rights.
If Ginsburg’s health forces her to retire during Trump’s presidency, he would be able to make a third lifetime appointment. Since coming to office, Trump has appointed Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, deepening the conservative bloc.
Appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg in 1999 underwent surgery for colorectal cancer. In 2009, she was treated for early stages of pancreatic cancer. Last December, Ginsburg had surgery to remove two cancerous nodules from her left lung.
Ginsburg has said that she’ll continue to serve on the Supreme Court as long as she’s able to do the job.
During Saturday’s event, Ginsburg also recounted a recent visit by singer Jennifer Lopez and retired baseball player Alex Rodriguez. According to Ginsburg, J.Lo was especially interested in hearing if the justice had a secret to a happy marriage.
CNN’s Ariane de Vogue and Joan Biskupic contributed to this report.