Ruth Bader Ginsburg Still Does Push-ups And 9 Other Crazy Things We Just Learned About Her

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, aka RBG. Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Photographer: Steve Petteway

Wow. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know about the great Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg – or RBG.

Irin Carmen nabbed a primo interview with her that aired on The Rachel Maddow Show Monday. The entire interview transcript is available at this location.

RBG was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and she has evolved into the leading liberal voice on a conservative-heavy court.

1. RBG’s Trainer

She has a trainer! And she can do 20 pushups. Okay at age 81 she admits that she takes a breather between the tenth one and the next one. But still,

“…this is a very intense job. It is by far the best and the hardest job I’ve ever had. And it takes a lot of energy and staying power to do it right.”

I had never considered the physicality of her job. Sure I knew it required a huge brain, but I thought they just sat around.

Washington Post profiled her ex-military trainer Bryant Johnson, who trains the majority of women justices.

2. RBG Stays Up All Night

People talk about Ginsburg nodding off during the president’s State Of The Union address, kind of like an elderly aunt. But this woman is a spitfire,

 “I thought to myself, ‘Don’t stay up all night.’ But then my pen was hot. And so I couldn’t stop what I was doing.”

Before the event, Ginsburg went out to the traditional dinner along with all of the other justices. She planned to just have a glass of sparkling water, but then Ginsburg thought the meal was so fine it demanded a good glass of wine.

3. RBG Still Experiences Sexism

As one of the most powerful women in the world, RBG still experiences bouts of sexism.

Yes. Less than I once did. Once it happened all the time that I would say something and there was no response.

“And then a man would say the same thing and people would say, “Good idea.” [Laughs] That happens much less today.”

I like that she understands what it is like for most women. The undercurrent of sexism is strong in this country.

4. RBG Gives Marriage Advice

Ginsburg’s advice comes after 60 years of successful marriage.

 “Marty was an extraordinary person. Of all the boys I had dated, he was the only one who really cared that I had a brain. And he was always – well, making me feel that I was better than I thought I was.

“So we went to law school. And he told everybody, all of his friends, and he was one year ahead of me. His wife was gonna be on the Law Review.

“And people looked at me and said, ‘She doesn’t look like the type that’s gonna be on the Law Review,’ whatever that type was.”

RBG was before her time.

5. RBG Was An Early Feminist

I knew that RBG was an advocate for women, I just didn’t realize the depth of her commitment. This justice early on had an egalitarian marriage.

“One accommodates the other. It is a team partnership.

“That job (her generation’s work) was an important first step. What’s left, what’s still with us and harder to deal with is what I call unconscious bias. 

“(But now) we speak of parent – rather than mother and wage earner rather than male breadwinner.”

She took care of the home and their child when her husband’s career demanded it. And when he realized how important starting the ACLU Women’s’ Project was to her, they reversed roles.

6. Does RBG Think Roe v. Wade Is Doomed?

The Roe v. Wade decision, which prohibits banning abortion, will likely go before the court. But RBG doesn’t think it will be overturned. She believes that women “of means” will always have access,

“We will never see a day when women of means are not able to get a safe abortion in this country.

“All the restrictions, they operate against the woman who doesn’t have freedom to move, to go where she is able to get safely what she wants.

“I don’t want to make any predictions. But precedent is important in this court. Overturning Roe could happen, but I think it’s not a likely scenario.”

She emphasized “women of means,” clearly indicating that women who are not able to travel would lose out. Many states are squeezing abortion access until, in reality, it does not exist for low-income women.

7. How Long Will RBG Stay?

Concerns over RBG’s health have led many to question how long she will stay on the job. She has had two different types of cancer. The first meant radiation, chemo and all that entails. The second was a very small growth in her pancreas, which was caught early.

Then more recently, she had a blocked coronary artery that was handled with a stent.

“And I’ve said many times, once I sense that I am slipping, I will step down…So that is when I will step down, when I feel I can no longer do the job full steam.”

But I get the impression that Ginsburg will steam ahead for years yet to come.

8. To Tattoo Or Not – RBG Comments

The unflappable RBG seems a little surprised that she has become an icon for women and men across the country. There are RBG tee-shirts, mugs, and portraits for sale.

Website Notorious R.B.G. puns the name of a late New York rapper.

In an interview with Katie Couric that appeared in Vanity Fair, RBG said,

“I will admit I had to be told by my law clerks, what’s this Notorious. And they—they explained that to me.

“Most of it I think is very funny. There is a rap song, and there is one using the words from the Hobby Lobby dissent. I haven’t seen anything that isn’t either pleasing or funny on the Web site.”

However she isn’t crazy about the tattoo phase, wondering why someone would do that to their body. Piercings she gets. Her granddaughter had a nose ring at one time.

9. What RBG Thinks Of Congress

I adore that Ginsburg doesn’t mince words. You know exactly how she feels about this do-nothing Congress,

 “The current Congress is not equipped really to do anything. The kind of result that we got in the Ledbetter case is not easily achieved today.

“Someday, we will go back to having the kind of legislature that we should, where members, whatever party they belong to, want to make the thing work and cooperate with each other to see that that will happen.”  

10. How Does RBG Define Herself?

I wondered how Ginsburg thinks of herself and her life’s work. Her answer is brilliant.

“Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has.”

Alright! You go girl!

About Gloria Christie

Gloria Christie founded Gloria Christie Reports, a common sense column about liberal politics. She wrote for, the Kansas City Star, Where High Technology Meets Politics for London’s IDG-Connect Blog and The Best Times. Her total readership is over 5 million. Christie has an MS in radio-TV-film and an MPA in business/government relations. She was a systemic problems consulting expert for Fortune 100/500 businesses here and off-shore. Christie invented and implemented the first computerized patient chart. She also worked on Howard Dean’s, John Kerry’s, and Barak Obama’s presidential campaigns. She is particularly interested in liberal politics, high-tech, complex systems, and change. Like her Facebook page, visit her website, and follow her on Twitter. Click here to buy Gloria Christie a hot cup of Mocha Coffee.


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