Justice Ginsburg Has Successful Heart Surgery


Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is spending Thanksgiving in the hospital after undergoing a procedure to place a stent to deal with an arterial blockage:

WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a heart procedure on Wednesday morning and was expected to leave the hospital within the next two days, the Supreme Court announced.

Justice Ginsburg, 81, “experienced discomfort during routine exercise” on Tuesday night and was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center, the court said in a statement. Doctors placed a stent in her right coronary artery, a procedure known as a coronary catheterization.

“She is resting comfortably,” the statement said.

Kathleen Arberg, the court’s public information officer, added that “Justice Ginsburg expects to be on the bench on Monday.” The court is scheduled to hear two arguments that day, including one on how the First Amendment applies to threats conveyed on Facebook.

Justice Ginsburg is the senior member of the court’s four-person liberal wing, a role she seems to enjoy. She has resisted calls for her resignation from liberals who say they want President Obama to name her replacement, rather than a possible Republican successor.

The issue is now largely moot. The Republican takeover of the Senate next month will almost certainly narrow the range of candidates who could be confirmed in the last two years of Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Justice Ginsburg has repeatedly vowed in recent months to stay on the court as long as her health holds and she stays mentally sharp. In an interview last year, she said she loved her work and intended to continue “as long as I can do the job full-steam, and that, at my age, is not predictable.”

She has had cancer twice, and has attributed her survival partly to the medical care she received at the National Institutes of Health.

“Ever since my colorectal cancer in 1999, I have been followed by the N.I.H.,” she said in the interview. “That was very lucky for me because they detected my pancreatic cancer at a very early stage” in 2009.

Justice Ginsburg was back on the bench less than three weeks after undergoing the second cancer surgery.

“After the pancreatic cancer, at first I went to N.I.H. every three months, then every four months, then every six months,” she said. “The last time I was there they said, ‘Come back in a year.’ ”

She said in the interview last year that she was working out twice a week with a trainer, and in remarks at a bar association in February, she said the trainer “has been my physical fitness guardian since 1999.”

The court’s prompt and detailed announcement of Wednesday’s heart procedure was characteristic of Justice Ginsburg’s openness about her health and other matters. Last month, she had the court issue a statement announcing that she was correcting a factual error in a recently issued opinion.

Justice Ginsburg was named to the court in 1993 by President Clinton. She was the first Democratic appointment since 1967, when President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Thurgood Marshall.

Here’s hoping that Justice Ginsburg’s recovery is quick and that she is indeed back on the bench Monday morning as planned.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. bitterclinger says:

    Not surprised she picked this week to have it done; Communists don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    Not surprised she picked this week to have it done; Communists don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.

    Hmm…satire or stupidity…

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    @An Interested Party:

    I”m guessing (hoping?) satire…

  4. dmhlt says:

    Glad to hear Notorious Justice RBG is doing well.

    She’s a national treasure!

  5. gVOR08 says:

    @dmhlt: She is indeed. Selfish of me, but I’m just hoping she can make two more years. And maybe have something left for a well deserved rest.