Ginsburg says she hopes to serve on bench 'as long as' Stevens did

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgNo, Justice Ginsburg, we don't need a constitutional amendment to protect equal rights for women New two-story mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg unveiled in DC Supreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration MORE said Tuesday she hopes to remain on the court “as long as” the late former Justice John Paul Stevens, who was laid to rest this week.

Less than two weeks ago, shortly before 99-year-old Stevens’s death on July 16, Ginsburg told him that “my dream is that I will stay at the court as long as he did,” she said during her eulogy for her former colleague. “And his immediate response was, ‘Stay longer!’ ”

Ginsburg, 86, has sat on the court’s nine-member bench for 26 years, serving nearly two decades alongside Stevens, who served on the nation’s highest court for more than 34 years before retiring at 90 years old in 2010.

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Stevens, who died in Florida after suffering a stroke, remains the second-oldest and third longest-serving Supreme Court justice in U.S. history.

Ginsburg has struggled with cancer bouts over the past two decades, undergoing surgery in 1999 for colorectal cancer, a procedure for pancreatic cancer in 2009 and another surgery for lung cancer in 2018.

"There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced, with great glee, that I was going to be dead within six months," she told NPR on Tuesday. "That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I am very much alive."

She added: "The work is really what saved me, because I had to concentrate on reading the briefs, doing a draft of an opinion, and I knew it had to get done. So I had to get past whatever my aches and pains were just to do the job."