Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent secret surgery Friday to remove two cancerous tumors from her left lung, the Supreme Court has confirmed.
The surgery took place at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Cnbc.com reports: Ginsburg, the eldest member of the court and the senior justice of its liberal wing, underwent a pulmonary lobectomy. Two nodules in the lower lobe of her left lung were discovered incidentally during tests she received while being treated for rib fractures sustained in a fall last month. Both nodules were found to be malignant during an initial evaluation.
Sloan Kettering on its website describes a lobectomy as the most common operation for non-small cell lung cancer. It is the best treatment for “isolated lung cancer in an otherwise healthy patient,” according to the hospital.
Ginsburg was recovering from three rib fractures she sustained after falling in her office on Nov. 7. On Saturday, she told an audience in New York that she was “almost repaired” and had returned to doing her full workouts with her physical trainer after initially limiting her workouts to her lower body. Ginsburg did not miss any oral arguments because of her injury.
Ginsburg has quickly recovered from a number of health issues in recent years. The former ACLU litigator has survived multiple bouts with cancer, and in 2014 underwent a procedure to have a stent placed in her right coronary artery.
The justice’s health is a matter of intense public concern because her retirement would likely enable President Donald Trump to name her replacement. Trump has named two justices to the bench, Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The last president to nominate more than two justices to the bench was Ronald Reagan, who nominated three.
Ginsburg, who was appointed to the court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, becoming the second female on the top court’s bench.
The nine-member court is divided 5-4 among Republican and Democratic nominees. A sixth justice nominated by a Republican would further cement the bench’s conservative majority, with possible ramifications on a slew of contentious legal issues the top court may review in coming terms, including reproductive rights.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Ginsburg’s surgery came as Congress scrambled to pass a bill to keep one-quarter of the federal government funded before a midnight deadline.
The court is in recess and is not scheduled to reconvene until Jan. 4, when the justices will meet for a private conference. The next oral arguments are scheduled for Jan. 7.
The full release is below:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a pulmonary lobectomy today at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Two nodules in the lower lobe of her left lung were discovered incidentally during tests performed at George Washington University Hospital to diagnose and treat rib fractures sustained in a fall on November 7. According to the thoracic surgeon, Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS, both nodules removed during surgery were found to be malignant on initial pathology evaluation. Post-surgery, there was no evidence of any remaining disease. Scans performed before surgery indicated no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Currently, no further treatment is planned. Justice Ginsburg is resting comfortably and is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days. Updates will be provided as they become available.
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