The Notorious R.B.G. turns 84 on Wednesday

By Christian Holub
Updated March 16, 2018 at 07:51 PM EDT
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Saturday Night Live - Season 42
Credit: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

At age 85, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the Supreme Court’s biggest viral media star. That’s due to several factors, from her status as a feminist icon to ubiquitous “Notorious R.B.G.” t-shirts, but by far the funniest element fueling Ginsburg’s place in the zeitgeist has been Kate McKinnon’s impressions of her on Saturday Night Live. McKinnon plays the justice as an energetic, foul-mouthed cartoon who loves nothing more than to diss her opponents and drop the mic. In celebration of Ginsburg’s birthday Wednesday, take a look back at some of McKinnon’s funniest portrayals.

1. Weekend Update debut
McKinnon first spoofed Ginsburg on the Feb. 28, 2015 edition of Weekend Update. After responding to worries about her age and status as the oldest justice on the bench, she summed up the morning routine that keeps her “spry”: “100 push-ups, 100 laps in the bathtub, and then I do my P90X, where I pee 90 times.”

2. On marriage equality
McKinnon returned to Weekend Update on May 2, 2015 to dish out more “Gins-burns” about the Supreme Court’s then-ongoing marriage equality case. After dissing the state of Kentucky, McKinnon ended up burning herself in response to Colin Jost’s question about written briefs: “You know what’s written on my briefs? ‘Baby Gap!’ Nobody’s safe from the fire, not even me! I just got Gins-burned!”

3. Checking in with Trump and the RNC
SNL dialed its political coverage up a notch during the 2016 campaign, sending its Weekend Update team to cover the Republican and Democratic political conventions from the ground. McKinnon’s Ginsburg stopped by the RNC edition to spit-fire at the convention’s star, who had recently dissed the real-life justice: “If my mind is shot, then Donald Trump’s mind is shot, stabbed, strangled, put in a vat of wet cement, and dumped in the Gowanus Canal. His mind is sleeping with the fishes, but it’s waking up to a Gins-burn.”

4. After the election
After Trump’s surprise upset in the 2016 election, McKinnon’s Ginsburg stopped by SNL‘s powerful post-election episode to explain that she wouldn’t be retiring from the Supreme Court any time soon. She even shared her priceless health regimen: “I’m eating an apple to keep Ben Carson away. And by ‘apple’ I mean pure human growth hormone. And if that doesn’t work, I’ve hidden Horcruxes in all the Talbots in the D.C. metro area.”

5. Neil Gorsuch
One of the wedge issues in the 2016 election involved the empty Supreme Court seat vacated by Antonin Scalia’s death. Though President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the spot, the Republican-controlled Congress refused to appoint or even meet with Garland. Once Donald Trump became president, he nominated conservative justice Neil Gorsuch, who was approved by Congress. Gorsuch’s appointment could be a decisive factor in the Court’s ongoing gerrymandering case, which McKinnon mocked by pulling up a map of sample gerrymandered districts: “That’s not a district, it’s a tapeworm!” Other targets of this round’s Gins-burns included Justice Samuel Alito, Steve Bannon, and even Ginsburg herself.

Episode Recaps

Saturday Night Live - Season 42

Saturday Night Live

The original late-night comedy sketch show from the one and only Lorne Michaels.

  • TV Show
  • 46
  • TV-14
  • Saturdays at 11:30 PM
  • Lorne Michaels
  • NBC
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