United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalised late on Tuesday with an infection caused by a gallstone, still took part in the court’s arguments by telephone on Wednesday.
During arguments in a case involving a dispute over an Obamacare requirement regarding health insurance coverage for women’s birth control, which was conducted by teleconference amid the coronavirus pandemic, Ginsburg posed a question to the Trump administration’s lawyer, Noel Francisco, early in the hearing.
The 87-year-old justice underwent non-surgical treatment for what the court described as acute cholecystitis, a benign gallbladder condition, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Tuesday. Court officials said the justice would remain hospitalised for a day or two
Tests following the court’s oral arguments on Monday morning showed that Ginsburg was suffering from a gallstone that had migrated to her cystic duct, a tube that empties the gall bladder, blocking it and causing an infection, spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.
She is resting comfortably and expects to be in the hospital for a day or two, the court said.
Ginsburg took part in the court’s telephone arguments on Monday and Tuesday. She initially sought medical care on Monday, when the gallstone was first diagnosed.
She has been treated four times for cancer, most recently in August, when she underwent radiation for a tumour on her pancreas.
Her most recent hospital stay was in November, when she spent two nights at Johns Hopkins Hospital with a likely infection after suffering from chills and fever.
The frail-looking liberal icon also bounced back from lung surgery to remove cancerous growths in December 2018.
Her recovery from that surgery forced her to miss court arguments for the first time since she became a justice in 1993, when she was appointed by President Bill Clinton.
She has been doing her usual workout with a personal trainer at the court, even as the justices have cancelled court arguments in favour of telephone sessions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Most recently, Ginsburg was admitted to a hospital in November for two nights suffering from a fever and chills, but returned to work at the court the day after being released.
The health of the liberal justice is closely watched because a Supreme Court vacancy would give Republican President Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a third justice to the nine-member court and prod it further to the right. The court currently has a 5-4 conservative majority.
Ginsburg has said she would like to serve until she is 90 if her health allows.