Why Isn’t Ginsburg at the State of the Union? No, She’s Not Dead, Despite Death Hoaxes

Ruth Bader Ginsburg at Concert


A lot of rumors have been circulating lately about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health. But no, she’s not dead. She hasn’t been seen in photos lately, but she’s made one public appearance and is working on recovering following cancer surgery. With Ginsburg not attending the State of the Union tonight, there will likely be renewed rumors and hoaxes about her health. But recovering from cancer surgery, especially at her age, can be a long process. She hasn’t attended the SOTU for the last two years, so it’s not surprising that she wouldn’t attend tonight.

No authenticated photos have surfaced of Ginsburg’s first public appearance last night. Ginsburg’s first public appearance was for Notorious RBG in Song, a musical about Ginsburg’s life. Her daughter-in-law, Patrice Michaels, created and performed in the musical. It was presented for high school students at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. According to The Washington Post, 85-year-old Ginsburg sat in the back and was only seen as she was leaving. Her daughter-in-law didn’t tell anyone she was there, and Ginsburg didn’t make any kind of speech to the crowd.

One photo has been shared online, but Heavy hasn’t been able to yet determine who first shared this photo or authenticate that it was taken last night:

Despite the lack of photos, numerous people did talk about seeing her there. Jeffrey Rosen, President & CEO of the Constitution Center, tweeted that he was thrilled to see her there Monday night.

David Hagedorn, a Washington Post contributor, said on Twitter about her appearance, “What a delight to see RBG tonight at Notorious RBG in Song, written & beautifully performed by her daughter-in-law, Patrice Michaels. She sat in the back, a few rows behind us, looking resplendent. Being hugged & wished a happy birthday by her made a grand night spectacular.” His tweet is no longer available and it appears that his account on Twitter is now private.

Nina Totenberg of NPR said she looked “quite glam.”

Michelle Olsen said she slipped in and out with little fanfare.

Joe Palmore of Morrison & Foerster was at the concert and said it was great to see her there.

This was Ginsburg’s first public appearance since her pulmonary lobectomy to remove cancerous nodules on December 21. It’s actually not that strange that she hasn’t made many public appearances. The recovery time for this surgery can sometimes take as long as eight weeks.

The latest news about her health was quite positive. The Supreme Court said on January 11, “Her recovery from surgery is on track. Post-surgery evaluation indicates no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required.”

Interestingly, Ginsburg’s decision not to attend tonight’s State of the Union isn’t surprising. She didn’t attend President Donald Trump’s SOTU last year, or his address to a joint session of Congress in 2017. And one of the last year’s she attended, in 2010, she appeared to fall asleep during the event. In 2015, she said she fell asleep because she wasn’t 100 percent sober, Politico reported.

She’s not the only Supreme Court justice who skips the State of the Union addresses. Before his death, Justice Antonin Scalia had stopped going for years. Even Justice Clarence Thomas hasn’t been to a State of the  Union since 2009.

Only four Justices are expected to attend tonight:

Still, some people will no doubt stir up death hoax rumors with Ginsburg being absent. Some of the tweets are already starting.

It’s unclear when Ginsburg’s next public appearance will be.

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