On Monday, for the first time in her career as a Supreme Court Justice, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will not be sitting on the bench as the court hears oral arguments.
Court spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg stated that Ginsburg, 85, who has served on the court since 1993 after being nominated by former President Bill Clinton and being confirmed by a vote of 96-3, will still peruse briefs and a transcript of the two oral arguments scheduled for Monday, according to The Washington Post.
On December 21, Ginsburg underwent surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to remove two malignant nodules in her left lung; one of the two lobes of her left lung was removed. She was released from the hospital on December 23.
The last two months have been brutal for Ginsburg, as she fell on November 7 and broke three ribs. It was during the examination of her broken ribs at George Washington University Hospital that the cancerous nodules were found.
Ginsburg is a long-time survivor of cancer; she initially was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1999; in 2009 she was diagnosed with a pancreatic cancer that was in a very early stage. Refusing to miss a day on the court, she scheduled the surgery for both problems on days when the court was not in session.
In 2012, Ginsburg fell and broke two ribs; in 2014, Ginsburg underwent another procedure in which a heart stent was implanted in order to open a blocked artery.
The Post reported of Ginsburg’s December 21 surgery, “John Kucharczuk, chief of thoracic surgery in the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, said the kind of surgery Ginsburg underwent is performed only when the doctors are convinced the cancer has not spread to other organs — in that case, the treatment would be a systemic therapy like chemotherapy.”
Ginsburg is determined to serve on the court as long as she can, having asserted in 2018, “As long as I can do the job full steam, I will do it.” In 2011, she said that if she had been nominated for the court in 2011, Republicans would not vote for her because of her work for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), asserting, “Today, my ACLU connection would probably disqualify me.”
In 2014, asked why she would not step down and let former President Barack Obama replace her with another like-minded liberal justice, she responded:
Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day, given the boundaries that we have? If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court. [The Senate Republicans] took off the filibuster for lower federal court appointments, but it remains for this court. So anybody who thinks that if I step down, Obama could appoint someone like me, they’re misguided. As long as I can do the job full steam … I think I’ll recognize when the time comes that I can’t any longer. But now I can.