‘Stomach bug’ keeps Ruth Bader Ginsburg home from Supreme Court arguments: Report

November 15, 2019

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed oral arguments on Wednesday due to a “stomach bug,” Fox News reports.

Chief Justice John Roberts announced the 86-year-old’s absence from the bench on Wednesday.

“Justice Ginsburg is unable to be present today,” he said. “She is indisposed due to illness, but she will participate in the consideration and decision of the cases on the basis of the briefs and the transcripts or recordings of the oral arguments.”

A history of health problems

Ginsburg missed oral arguments for the first time in her career in January, when she was out for two weeks after surgery to remove cancerous growths from her lungs, according to Bloomberg. But that wasn’t the justice’s first bout with cancer.

Ginsburg has previously been treated for both colon and pancreatic cancer, according to WebMD. Most recently, she underwent treatment for a second bout with pancreatic cancer last summer.

But that hasn’t stopped the justice, who is affectionately known to fans by her initials “RBG,” from continuing her jam-packed work schedule. The second woman to be elevated to the nation’s highest court, Ginsburg received loud applause at an appearance at the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival in August, video from C-SPAN shows.

“As this audience can see, I am alive,” Ginsburg told the cheering crowd. “And I’m on my way to being very well.”

When asked why she was attending the event rather than resting, the justice said that she had “more than a month” before the start of the new Supreme Court term and that she would “be prepared when the time comes.”

Looking ahead

Considered a reliable liberal vote, Ginsburg was first appointed to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Now, more than a quarter of a century later, her health has major electoral implications.

A Pew Research poll published in 2018 found that 67% of voters said the Supreme Court was a “very important” factor in determining how they cast their ballots in 2020. And according to exit polling done during the 2016 general election, one out of every four of those who voted for Donald Trump considered Supreme Court nominees to be their biggest concern, The Washington Post noted.

If Ginsburg can hold out until after Trump leaves office — which could be as late as January 2025 — then Democrats might just have a shot at replacing her with a similarly liberal adjudicator. Still, pundits have speculated that with her ongoing health struggles, Ginsburg may be on the verge of retiring — though the justice herself has maintained that it’s her job that keeps her going every day.

“I love my job,” Ginsburg said at the August event in Washington. “It’s the best and the hardest job I ever had, and it’s what’s kept me going through four cancer bouts. Instead of concentrating on my aches and pains, I just know that I have to read this set of briefs.”


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Adam Peters

Adam Peters is a Conservative Institute staff writer.