The court said Ginsburg, a two-time cancer survivor, had been admitted for “observation and treatment.”
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fell in her office at the court last evening,” according to the statement. “She went home, but after experiencing discomfort overnight, went to George Washington University Hospital early this morning.”
Ginsburg missed a formal ceremony Thursday morning at the court for new Justice Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second high court appointee. She’s never skipped a Supreme Court argument, even while undergoing cancer treatment.
Trump and his wife, Melania, attended the 10-minute session, as did newly appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who spoke briefly to formally request the reading of Kavanaugh’s commission. Others in attendance included retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and appeals court Judge Merrick Garland, whose Supreme Court nomination by President Barack Obama was thwarted by McConnell in 2016.
Ginsburg’s an iconic figure among liberals, earning the affectionate nickname “Notorious RBG” and becoming the focus of two major movies this year — a documentary titled “RBG” and a biopic on her early legal career called “On the Basis of Sex” that’s not yet released. She’s known for her slight physical stature, rigorous workout routines and pointed opinions.
Ginsburg’s well-being is of intense interest to liberals who don’t want Trump to get the chance to nominate her successor, as well as conservatives eager to further entrench the court’s conservative majority.
Ginsburg, who said this year she intended to stay on the court for at least five more years, has shown no signs of slowing down. As often occurs, she wrote the court’s first opinion of the current term, a unanimous ruling issued Tuesday saying the federal age-discrimination law covers local governments that have only a handful of employees.
The court next hears arguments on until Nov. 26, when it will consider an antitrust case involving Apple Inc. The court is also scheduled to take the bench briefly on Nov. 13 to announce any opinions that are ready for release. Justices occasionally skip those non-argument sessions, particularly if they’re out of town.
Justices can take part in rulings even if they miss arguments because of a medical issue. In the court’s 2005-06 term, Chief Justice William Rehnquist missed 44 arguments while being treated for thyroid cancer, but participated in many of those cases by reading the briefs and argument transcripts. Rehnquist died in September 2006.
During Trump’s 2016 campaign, Ginsburg drew rebukes for publicly saying that he was a “faker,” and that she didn’t want to think about the possibility he might be elected. Trump called for her to resign, and she later said she regretted the remarks.
Ginsburg took the bench in 1993 as the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, culminating a legal career dedicated to advancing the rights of women. Ginsburg has backed abortion rights and gay rights on the high court, and has written strong dissents from rulings that cut back on voting rights and affirmative action.
The justice had a stent implanted in a coronary artery in November 2014. She also underwent surgery in 2009 for pancreatic cancer and in 1999 for colon cancer. Ginsburg also broke two ribs in a fall at her home in 2012. She returned to work the next morning and traveled later in the week to give a speech in New York.
Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Ginsburg called the court’s police early Thursday morning when she experienced discomfort. Police then took her to the hospital, Arberg said. Ginsburg lives in the Watergate complex, less than a half mile from George Washington University Hospital. Arberg said she didn’t have details about Ginsburg’s fall. DM