Supreme Court (U.S.)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Signals She’ll Stay on Supreme Court as Long as She Can

Alex Johnson
Justice Ruth Ginsburg
Joanne Rathe | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg indicated Thursday that she intends to remain on the Supreme Court as long as she can, predicting that the "pendulum" of American politics will eventually swing back toward the center.

"I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam," Ginsburg, 83, said at an appearance Thursday night at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. "When I can't, that will be the time I will step down."

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In an interview on the BBC's "Newsnight" broadcast, Ginsburg noted that Justice John Paul Stevens was 90 when he retired and said: "So I have a way to go."

The health of Ginsburg, who's widely considered the most reliable liberal vote on the court, has driven concern among liberals and activists concerned that President Donald Trump could reshape the court for years to come.

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A Washington Post columnist earlier this month even made Ginsburg this offer:

"If you have any need for blood, you can have the eight or so units of A-positive that are right here in my body. There's also a gently used liver in here, lobes of it just lying around if you need them."

The BBC said that in its interview, Ginsburg was careful to avoid commenting on Trump after she apologized last year for making critical comments about him. But she said, "We are not experiencing the best times."

"Some terrible things have happened in the United States, but one can only hope that we learn from those bad things," Ginsburg said.

Asked what she meant by that at her appearance Thursday night, Ginsburg replied: "We are not as mindful of what makes America great."

Among those things is the right to speak out, Ginsburg said, and "another is the words written on the Statute of Liberty, the idea of our nation being receptive to all people, welcoming of all people."

But she told the BBC that she remains "optimistic in the long run."

"A great man once said that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle. It is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back."

Ginsburg also said she had reason to be optimistic, and that she was encouraged by the Women's March on Jan. 21, when hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Washington to rally for women's rights a day after Trump was inaugurated.

"I've never seen such a demonstration — both the numbers and the rapport of the people in that crowd. There was no violence. It was orderly," she said. "So, yes, we are not experiencing the best times, but there is reason to hope that we will see a better day."