Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Supreme Court Justice has lung surgery to remove cancerous nodules

The nodules were found during tests ms Ginsburg had after fracturing three ribs in a fall last month

Chris Stevenson
Friday 21 December 2018 18:34
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg reassures supporters her 'health is fine' after fall

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had surgery to remove two cancerous nodules from her left lung.

It is Justice Ginsburg's third bout with cancer since she joined the court in 1993.

The court said the 85-year-old, who broke three ribs in a fall last month, underwent a procedure known as a pulmonary lobectomy on Friday at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Ms Ginsburg is said to be "resting comfortably" according to a court spokeswoman.

Doctors found “no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body” and no additional treatment is currently planned.

The health of Ms Ginsburg - the oldest member of the Supreme Court's nine jurists - has become a source of anxiety for many in America. She is the senior liberal member of the court, which now has a 5-4 conservative majority.

President Donald Trump has appointed two conservative judges to the court since taking office. Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh earlier this year.

If Ms Ginsburg were unable to continue serving, Trump could replace her with a conservative, further shifting the court to the right.

A potentially dominant 6-3 conservative majority would have major consequences for issues including abortion, the death penalty, voting rights, gay rights and religious liberty.

The growths were found during tests Ms Ginsburg was given after the fall in a office early in November. She also broke two ribs in a fall in 2012.

Ms Ginsburg was treated in 1999 for colon cancer and again in 2009 for pancreatic cancer. She was also treated in hospital the same year over a bad reaction to medicine.

In 2014, doctors placed a stent in her right coronary artery to improve blood flow after she reported discomfort following routine exercise. She was released from a hospital the next day.

Ginsburg has never missed Supreme Court arguments in more than 25 years on the bench. The court is due to reconvene to hear arguments on 7 January.

Last week, Ms Ginsburg said during an interview with NPR's Nina Totenberg that her ribs were "almost repaired".

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During the interview, part of an event hosted by the Museum of the City of New York, Ms Ginsburg said that he returned to her physical trainer “immediately” after the fall, but they did “legs only.” She said she had recently returned to doing her "whole routine".

Appointed by President Bill Clinton, Ms Ginsburg rebuffed suggestions from some liberals that she should step down in the first two years of President Barack Obama's second term. Democrats controlled the Senate and would have been likely to confirm a liberal successor.

The justice already has hired clerks for the term that extends into 2020, indicating she has no plans to retire.

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