Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been declared too sick to return to work for a third day in a row, prompting concerns among progressives about another vacancy on the high court as Ginsburg recovers from surgery.
Ginsburg, 85, had two cancerous nodes removed from her left lung on Dec. 21. The growths were treated at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, and Ginsburg was discharged on Christmas Day.
However, instead of bouncing back and quickly returning to work — as the liberal justice did following previous cancer scares — Ginsburg has now missed three consecutive days of oral arguments. On Monday, the aging justice missed her first court appointment since she joined the Supreme Court in 1993.
Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Ginsburg has been recovering from her surgery at home.
Ginsburg’s place on the bench was noticeably vacant a second day on Tuesday, when Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued his inaugural Supreme Court opinion. The case was a standard arbitration hearing involving opposing businesses.
Work from home
Chief Justice John Roberts announced Tuesday that Ginsburg would be working from home by reading from transcripts and preparing briefs, but the court has not indicated when they expect Ginsburg to return.
This isn’t the first time that a Supreme Court Justice has contributed in absentia. Chief Justice William Rehnquist missed oral arguments in 44 cases while battling cancer, but still managed to contribute, writing the majority opinion in four of those cases.
Democratic strategists have sought to dismiss fears that Ginsburg’s extended absence could point to something more serious. Daniel Epps, an associate professor at Washington University School of Law, told The Hill that he doesn’t expect Ginsburg to step down any time soon.
“We all think she’s highly unlikely to resign under this administration,” he said.
However, Ginsburg and her Democratic supporters may not have a choice in the matter.
After suffering from multiple cancer scares and a pair of bone-breaking falls, the social justice icon may not be in any condition to continue.
After a career that has spanned 25 years and multiple landmark court cases, Ginsburg should put her health and family ahead of the pressure to resist a strong conservative majority on the Supreme Court.