Ruth Bader Ginsburg Appears In Public, Refuting Conspiracy Theories

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After a month in which one fringe website reported falsely that she was “fighting for her life” with pneumonia, Fox News mistakenly ran an obituary chyron for her, and a larger conspiracy theory emerged that she was secretly dead, Ruth Bader Ginsburg finally appeared in public Monday, for the first time in over a month.

According to the Washington Post, the Supreme Court justice appeared Monday night at “Notorious RBG in Song,” a musical revue of the 85-year-old justice’s life at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington. The show was performed by Patrice Michaels, a soprano who is Ginsburg’s daughter-in-law.

Ginsburg was not introduced at the performance and sat in the back, although she was spotted by some attendees. Also in the Washington Post story, Ginsburg’s son James stated that his mother “walks a mile a day and is working with her trainer again.”

The justice underwent surgery in December to remove cancerous nodules from her lungs. Following the surgery, Ginsburg worked from home and followed the court’s oral arguments that way. A spokeswoman said at the time that Ginsburg had “no evidence of remaining disease,” and that “no further treatment is required.”

Various conspiracy theories have circulated in recent months about the state of Ginsburg’s health, pushing the notion that the justice was either sicker than publicly acknowledged, or even that the justice had died and that allies were seeking to cover it up.

Per a Daily Beast report last week, various Trump allies, including the QAnon movement, have pushed outlandish conspiracy theories that Ginsburg was dying or dead. One commentator, Trump White House aide-turned-Fox News contributor Sebastian Gorka, even implied that Ginsburg had just “6 days left until Ruth Bader Ginsberg has to make her official appearance at [Donald Trump’s] State of the Union.” In addition to propagating the bogus conspiracy, Gorka not only spelled Ginsburg’s name incorrectly, but also stated falsely that Supreme Court justices are required to attend the State of the Union address. In fact, members of the Court frequently skip it.

Last month, a dubious website called Santa Monica Observer reported that Ginsburg was fighting for her life after she was “stricken with pneumonia.” The same site claimed to have “broken” the story of Ginsburg’s cancer diagnosis last fall, but its report was two months earlier than the actual diagnosis, and also got the type of cancer wrong.

The Post story also notes that early reports of Ginsburg’s death are nothing new. Former Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) told an audience as far back as 2009 that the justice wouldn’t be alive much longer, following Ginsburg’s diagnosis with pancreatic cancer. She is indeed alive a decade later, although Bunning died in 2017.

It’s not clear when Ginsburg will be returning to the bench. The next arguments before the court are scheduled for Feb. 19.