The Courts

Ruth Bader Ginsburg In Hospital With Infection, Supreme Court Says

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Reuters/Joshua Roberts/File photo)

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized Tuesday for a benign gallbladder condition, the Supreme Court announced.

Ginsburg, 87, underwent non-surgical treatment for the condition earlier in the day at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She expects to remain in the hospital for a day or two, where she will continue participating in oral arguments by telephone.

According to the Court’s announcement, Ginsburg sought outpatient tests on Monday at a Washington-area hospital. They confirmed a gallstone was blocking her cystic duct, causing an infection. The condition is formally called acute cholecystitis.

Ginsburg has faced a daunting gauntlet of health problems in recent years. Since November 2018 she has been treated for lung cancer, a pancreatic tumor, and broken ribs. While the justice anticipates a quick return to work, her hospitalization during the coronavirus pandemic is sure to carry risk.

The diagnosis did not impede her participation in oral arguments on Tuesday, and her work in recent months shows no signs of deficiency. She’s authored four majority opinions since October, placing her in a three-way tie for most decisions written at this juncture.

Despite recent health challenges, Ginsburg has consistently waved off speculation about her retirement, pointing favorably to the example of Justice John Paul Stevens, her onetime colleague who served until age 90. Stevens died in 2019.

Yet she also appears sensitive to intense public interest in her health. She kept an aggressive public schedule after concluding a three-week regimen of radiation therapy in 2019. In a matter of days, she accepted an honorary degree from the University at Buffalo School of Law, visited the University of Arkansas, and appeared at a Library of Congress book festival.

Other cases set for the ongoing teleconference session, which runs through May 13, include disputes over subpoenas for President Donald Trump’s tax returns.