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Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to bench after bout with stomach bug
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to the Supreme Court on Monday to hear oral arguments after missing a day last week due to an apparent stomach bug, the Daily Mail reported.
Ginsburg was absent from the bench on Wednesday, but said she was feeling better when she returned at the start of the week. She was also present last Friday for a previously scheduled closed-door conference with her fellow justices.
The 86-year-old justice has battled cancer four times in recent years. Ginsburg was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. A decade later, she had her first bout with pancreatic cancer, followed by lung cancer in December of 2018 and a recurrence of pancreatic cancer in August, for which she underwent radiation therapy.
She also fell and broke her hip in November of 2018. Democrats have long been concerned about the prospect of her retirement, because it would give President Donald Trump an opportunity to appoint a third justice to the court and further solidify a conservative majority.
Ginsburg returns to bench
Ginsburg stepped up to her seat on the bench unassisted on Monday. At the end of the session, she was helped down from the bench by Justice Clarence Thomas, as is his usual custom.
The octogenarian is the oldest justice serving on the court, having been appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993. Justice Stephen Breyer, also a Clinton appointee, is the next-oldest justice at age 81.
John Paul Stevens and Oliver Wendell Holmes were both 90 when they stepped down from the high court. The average age of Supreme Court retirements or deaths while still serving stands at 69.
Ginsburg is one of three female justices currently on the court. Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were both appointed during the Barack Obama administration.
No president or former president currently has more than two appointees serving on the bench. Chief Justice John Roberts was appointed by George W. Bush in 2005 to succeed the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
Ginsburg is widely viewed as the leader of the left-leaning judges at the Supreme Court and something of a mascot among progressives, offering nearly unwavering liberal opinions on most issues that come before the court. She has even garnered the moniker of “Notorious RBG” in tribute to her tenacity in the face of personal adversity.
She has said that she hopes to serve as long as Justice Stevens, whose tenure overlapped with hers, but her health does seem to be in decline, despite protestations from her staff that she is of both sound mind and body.
The liberal judicial icon has made a number of public appearances since completing radiation treatments earlier this summer, at which time doctors reported that they saw no evidence of cancerous spread elsewhere in her body.
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