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How Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish was made public

Justice Ruth Bader’s Ginsburg final wish was revealed in reporting by National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg, likely the best known Supreme Court reporter in the United States, who had been friends with Ginsburg for five decades. 

Totenberg included the anecdote in the obituary she published after Ginsburg’s death became public Friday night. 

‘Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,”‘ Totenberg wrote. 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying with was reported by National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying with was reported by National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg 

NPR's Nina Totenberg (left) and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (right) were friends for five decades and Totenberg wrote Ginsburg's obituary, which included her dying wish

NPR’s Nina Totenberg (left) and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (right) were friends for five decades and Totenberg wrote Ginsburg’s obituary, which included her dying wish 

According to Nina Totenberg's reporting, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dictated the statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera (front), who appears with Ginsburg in this 1993 photograph

According to Nina Totenberg’s reporting, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dictated the statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera (front), who appears with Ginsburg in this 1993 photograph 

On Monday, President Donald Trump called into question that reporting. 

During his phone interview to ‘Fox & Friends,’ the president floated that Democratic political foes were actually behind the liberal justice’s last request. 

He offered no evidence to back his claims. 

‘I don’t know that she did that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff, Schumer or Pelosi,’ Trump said, name-dropping the House Intelligence committee chairman, who pushed for his impeachment, as well as the top Democrats in the House and Senate. 

‘I would be more inclined to the second, it sounds so beautiful. But that sounds like a Schumer deal or maybe a Pelosi or shifty Schiff. So that … came out of the wind,’ the president went on. 

‘Let’s see, I mean, maybe she did and maybe she didn’t,’ Trump added. 

As a companion piece to her obituary, Totenberg wrote about her long friendship with Ginsburg, who died Friday at the age of 87, due to complications with pancreatic cancer. 

Totenberg recalled being a newly assigned Supreme Court reporter in 1971, when she called up Ginsburg, then a law professor at Rutgers, to have her explain the contents of a legal brief she had written. 

‘By the time I hung up an hour later, I was so full of information that I was like a goose whose innards were ready for foie gras,’ Totenberg recalled.  

She continued to use Ginsburg as a resource and the two women met for the first time at a conference in New York that was so boring, as Totenberg remembered it, that they skipped a portion to go shopping. 

Totenberg wrote of the kindnesses Ginsburg showed her throughout her life, such as being a supportive friend when Totenberg’s husband Sen. Floyd Haskell was injured in an accident and later died. 

When the NPR reporter began dating again, Ginsburg wanted the gossip. 

‘Details. I want details!’ Totenberg recalls the petite Supreme Court justice exclaiming. 

Ginsburg ended up performing the wedding ceremony for Tottenberg and her second husband, David Reines. 

The night before Ginsburg was in the hospital due to complications of her colon cancer radiation treatments.  

Ginsburg didn’t tell Totenberg until after-the-fact. 

‘This was your wedding eve, and I was not about to let you be worried,’ the justice told Tottenberg, who recalled that Ginsburg performed the ceremony, stayed through dinner and went home just a little bit early. 

Totenberg talked of the many health challenges Ginsburg had in her later years – and how she just kept going. 

‘Ruth could be stubborn. Oh my, stubborn,’ Totenberg wrote. ‘She knew how to play hurt better than most defensive ends. Broken ribs, radiation, chemo – she just soldiered on.’  

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