Politics

27-Year-Old Politico Reporter Can’t Handle Justice Ginsburg’s Workout

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Politico’s Ben Schreckinger has the latest embarrassingly effusive installment of the judicial press’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg fetish — the 27-year-old claims he could not handle the workout tailored for the 83-year-old justice.

Schreckinger arranged one session with Justice Ginsburg’s personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, an Army reservist who works at the U.S. District Court in Washington. Johnson, whom he describes as “muscular and bespectacled,” is instructor to some of the country’s leading jurists. He boasts Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan among his regular clients, and several unnamed appeals courts judges.

The 27-year-old, whom Johnson pegged as a “young thunderbird,” was made to use double the weight that Ginsburg does during strength exercises, in order to assure a physical experience analogous to the justice’s.

The twice-weekly regimen includes a stint on the elliptical, stretches, machine bench presses, one-legged squats, planks, push-ups, and PBS NewsHour broadcast on radio.

“I’m no athlete, but I’m young and reasonably fit,” Schreckinger writes, before — in a heroic display of journalistic integrity — conceding that he struggled through an exercise routine tailored to a 5’1″ 83-year-old woman. “I thought the workout would be pattycake, but it was much harder than I expected. Ginsburg’s personal trainer, it turns out, is no joke.”

Schreckinger also take pains to note Ginsburg does an honest push-up. “Justice Ginsburg does 10 pushups and she does not do the so-called ‘girl pushups,'” Georgetown University Law Center professor Mary Hartnett said during an appearance with the justice earlier this month at the Virginia Military Institute. “She does not use her knees. And then she stretches back for a very brief pause and she does 10 more.”

Ginsburg declined to participate in the story, but was apparently aware of the appointment.

“I hope he makes it through,” she reportedly said.

A brilliant jurist and progressive icon, Ginsburg looks increasingly frail, if mentally acute from her post on the Supreme Court. For Ginsburg, to move is to shuffle — she trails her colleagues by a considerable degree as they process to the bench during the Court’s public proceedings, each of her strained steps generating furtive glances inside the court room. But she remains in full form during oral arguments, energetic, incisive, and discerning in her questioning of the advocates before the Court.

Her health is a constant fixture of the news universe inside the beltway. A mild head cold set off a minor scare in late November 2016, which subsided in short order (she appeared to pass the cold off to Justice Sonia Sotomayor). The prospect of her death or retirement, and a second Donald Trump appointment to a high court narrowly divided between liberals and conservatives, is a source of intense anxiety for Democrats and Ginsburg’s legion fans in the Supreme Court press corp.

Ginsburg herself has no plans to leave the bench anytime soon. Her unqualified denunciations of President Donald Trump, offered during the general election and widely condemned among court-watchers, mitigate against the odds of a willing departure before 2020. Defiant and determined, Ginsburg works with Johnson twice a week for one hour.

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