U.S. Supreme Court

Justice Ginsburg makes first public appearances after treatment for pancreatic cancer

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Supreme Court official portrait.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made her first public appearances Monday since her recent treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Ginsburg, 86, was escorted across the stage in her appearances in Buffalo, New York, the Washington Post reports. But “she spoke with a clear, strong voice” at both events.

CNN covered Ginsburg’s morning appearance at the University at Buffalo to receive an honorary degree. The network reported that she “appeared strong” as she accepted the degree. The Buffalo News made a similar observation.

“Ginsburg may have recently completed radiation treatment for a pancreatic tumor, but you would never have known it from listening to her speak Monday morning at UB,” the Buffalo News reported.

Ginsburg had three weeks of outpatient radiation treatment that ended Friday, the Supreme Court announced late last week. There is no evidence that the cancer has spread.

The malignant tumor on her pancreas was first detected after a routine blood test in early July. A July 31 biopsy confirmed the malignant tumor.

Ginsburg appeared Monday evening at an event to honor the late lawyer Wayne Wisbaum, a former undergraduate classmate of Ginsburg’s at Cornell University. Ginsburg said she had promised Wisbaum that she would come to Buffalo before his death last December.

“It is to my great sorrow that he is not here with us this evening, but when I promised him I would come, I didn’t know this day would be preceded by three weeks of daily radiation,” Ginsburg said. “Like I said, I will not cancel Buffalo.”

At her earlier appearance, Ginsburg said she was surprised by her pop culture status and her new nickname. “It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the Notorious RBG,” she said.

“I am now 86 years old, yet people of all ages want to take their picture with me. Amazing,” Ginsburg said.

If she is notorious, Ginbsurg said, it is because she was a lawyer in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, it became possible to successfully argue “that equal justice under law required all arms of government to regard women as persons equal in stature to men,” Ginsburg said.

She described 1972 as a watershed year. Law schools were worried about losing men to the Vietnam draft, “so there was an over-admittance of women,” Ginsburg said. Now, women are deans of law schools and on law school faculties.

“The closed-door era is indeed over,” Ginsburg said. “No, it’s not perfect, but how far we have traveled.”

Ginsburg is also scheduled to appear at the National Book Festival this week and to give a lecture in Arkansas next week, according to the Washington Post.

Ginsburg’s most recent cancer treatment comes less than a year after her December surgery for lung cancer.

She had prior bouts with colon and pancreatic cancer and had heart stent surgery in 2014 to open a blockage in a coronary artery.

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