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Jane Fonda urges activism after Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death: 'We have to be as tough as Mitch McConnell'

Megan Johnson
·3 mins read
Jane Fonda appeared on "Real Time with Bill Maher" to discuss climate change and the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
Jane Fonda appeared on "Real Time with Bill Maher" to discuss climate change and the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

Jane Fonda said she is “reeling” from the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in an emotional interview with Real Time’s Bill Maher.

The actress and activist appeared virtually on Friday’s Real Time with Bill Maher to promote her Sept. book, What Can I Do? The Truth About Climate Change And How To Fix It. But upon learning that Ginsburg died that day of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87, the conversation took a somber turn.

Ginsburg consistently fought for reproductive freedom, equal pay, and female representation in the military. She recently told her granddaughter Clara Spera that her "most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” However, the potential for Ginsburg’s seat to be taken by a conservative nominee weighed heavily on Fonda.

"I'm still reeling, Bill," she told Maher. "I just heard that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. We have to be as tough as Mitch McConnell and not allow them to do one frickin' thing until the election results. I mean, we have to rise up and not allow them to do it. If Mitch McConnell can do it, let's get some — grow some balls and ovaries."

Shortly after the announcement of Ginsburg’s passing, Senate Majority Leader McConnell announced that he would hold a vote on Ginsburg’s replacement, upsetting some Democrats who hoped that person would be selected after the presidential election in November.

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said on Friday. After the Feb. 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia, McConnell said the Senate should not consider a nominee from then-President Obama, who still had nine months left of his term.

Clearly distraught, Fonda gathered herself. “Oh my god. Okay I’m here to talk about my book.” she said, switching gears to her wildly successful climate change protest campaign, known as Fire Drill Fridays.

“I wanted to turn 82 in jail. And they should’ve put me in jail because it was my fifth time, but they didn’t because I think they knew it would get a lot of attention,” said Fonda, who was arrested in December while in Washington D.C.

Fonda wasn’t always one to lean into the spotlight. When Maher referred to her as “one of the bravest people I know,” Fonda was quick to correct him.

“I spend a third of my life just nebbish, a nothing. Hedonistic. I didn’t even know why I was alive. I know what that feels like, to not know why you’re here,” she said passionately. “To feel like your life has no meaning. And I can tell you the difference between that and being willing to put yourself on the line and stand up for what you believe in, especially if you believe the future of the world is at stake, that’s a better way to be.”

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