Three days after finishing radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke in Buffalo, NY, yesterday. The 86-year-old justice received an honorary doctorate from the State University of New York, becoming the first Supreme Court justice to do so. The university reported that the justice also participated in a question-and-answer session with the law-school dean, Aviva Abramovsky.

In brief remarks after receiving her honorary degree, Ginsburg explained that the appearance in Buffalo was “both a joy and a sorrow for” her because Wayne Wisbaum, a local lawyer who had been in the class behind her at Cornell University, had hoped to attend, but passed away late last year. Referring obliquely to her most recent cancer treatment, Ginsburg observed that she “did not withdraw when my own health presented challenges.”

Ginsburg addressed the rock-star status that she has achieved in liberal legal circles, telling the audience that it was “beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the Notorious RBG.” “If I am notorious,” she continued, “it is because I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer in the late 1960s” and into the 1970s, when it “became possible to urge before courts, successfully, that equal justice under law required all arms of government to regard women as persons equal in stature to men.” Although we “have not reached Nirvana” in terms of equality, Ginsburg concluded, “the progress I have seen in my lifetime makes me optimistic for the future.”

This post was originally published at Howe on the Court.

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Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, Ginsburg speaks in Buffalo, SCOTUSblog (Aug. 27, 2019, 11:29 AM),