Almost three weeks after the Supreme Court’s term ended and two weeks since her last hospitalization, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been hospitalized in New York City following a “minimally invasive non-surgical procedure,” according to a Supreme Court spokeswoman. The procedure, administered at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, revised a bile duct stent that was originally placed in August 2019, when the 87-year-old justice was treated for a cancerous tumor on her pancreas.
To lower the heart rates of Democrats concerned over the increasing frequency of the words “Ruth Bader Ginsburg” and “hospitalization,”
SCOTUS spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement that Ginsburg’s doctors consider stent revisions to be “common occurrences” and that the procedure was “performed using endoscopy and medical imaging guidance … to minimize the risk of future infection.”
Ginsburg was also hospitalized at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore on July 14, then for a potential infection following fever and chills. She was admitted for one day to “receive intravenous antibiotic treatment,” Arberg stated at the time. She was also hospitalized in May following an infection caused by a “benign gallbladder condition,” though it did not preclude her from joining oral arguments on the phone.
While the hospitalizations for her apparently acute ailments have been stressful developments, they have not been as solemn as Ginsburg’s announcement on July 17 that she has been undergoing treatment for liver cancer since May. “The chemotherapy course … is yielding positive results,” Ginsburg said in a statement, two days after being released from Johns Hopkins for an unrelated ailment. “I will continue biweekly chemotherapy to keep my cancer at bay, and am able to maintain an active daily routine,” she said. “Throughout, I have kept up with opinion writing and all other court work.” This is the justice’s fifth bout with cancer.
While Republican senators have wished Justice Ginsburg a brisk recovery, they have also hinted that they would appoint a replacement to the court upon her unlikely retirement, or, more solemnly, upon her death — even in a lame-duck session following a potential Biden win. “We’re going to fill it,” said Senator John Barrasso. “I would be supportive of that,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “We would move on it,” said Senator John Thune, with a much different message than he had in 2016, when the GOP denied nomination hearings to President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland: “Since the next presidential election is already underway, the next president should make this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.”