For the first time since being seated on the Supreme Court in 1993, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not in her usual spot on the bench for an oral arguments session on Monday.
Ginsburg’s lengthy attendance streak was broken as she was confined to her home while she continues to recover from lung surgery in December to remove two cancerous growths that had recently been discovered.
The two malignant nodules in the lower lobe of Ginsburg’s left lung had been found during routine scans following a fall in her office in November that had resulted in fractured ribs for the 85-year-old jurist.
Recovering from surgery
A spokesperson for the Supreme Court told Fox that Ginsburg was resting and recuperating well after her surgery.
The spokesperson added that though no date has been set for her return to the high court, the justice was reportedly working from home by reviewing written briefs and transcripts of the oral arguments related to the case before the court.
Ginsburg was first nominated to the Supreme Court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993 to replace retiring Justice Byron White, and she was confirmed with bipartisan support.
Since that time, Ginsburg has been a veritable mainstay on the bench for court activities, only recently missing a non-argument session to handle routine business after her rib-cracking fall in November.
Meanwhile, Ginsburg has also been elevated to a sort of cult-hero status among liberals, and is lovingly viewed by them as having the indomitable spirit of a progressive warrior trapped inside the frail body of a small woman.
However, many of those same liberals have grown increasingly anxious and fearful of the eventual news that she will no longer be able to continue her service on the Supreme Court, either due to health reasons, retirement or even death.
To be sure, Ginsburg has attempted to downplay fears about her health issues — she fractured ribs in a fall in 2012, and has battled cancer twice before as well, in 1999 and again in 2009 — and has given no hint of an impending decision to retire, instead actually hiring clerks to work through the 2020 sessions.
But regardless of any claims to the contrary from Ginsburg or her legion of liberal supporters, it has grown abundantly clear that her health and ability to do the job of Supreme Court justice has diminished from what it once was.
Though few want to openly admit it, Justice Ginsburg’s remaining days on the Supreme Court are growing short, and if she is forced to retire during the Trump presidency, the political battle over her replacement will be epic.