(Reuters) – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been released from a Baltimore hospital after being treated for a possible infection, a court spokeswoman said on Wednesday, in the latest health issue for the U.S. Supreme Court’s oldest member.
Ginsburg, 87, returned home and is “doing well,” spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement. Ginsburg underwent a procedure at Johns Hopkins Hospital on Tuesday to clean a bile duct stent that was inserted last August, the court said.
Ginsburg was initially examined at a hospital in Washington on Monday night after experiencing fever and chills, according to the court.
The health of Ginsburg, the court’s senior liberal member, is closely watched because a Supreme Court vacancy could give Republican President Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a third justice to the nine-member court and move it further to the right. The court currently has a 5-4 conservative majority including two justices appointed by Trump – Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Neil Gorsuch in 2017.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters if there was a vacancy on the court, Trump could be expected to quickly pick a nominee and seek a speedy confirmation by the Senate. Meadows added that the White House was glad Ginsburg was out of the hospital and doing well.
Ginsburg has experienced a series of health issues in recent years, including bouts with lung and pancreatic cancer. In May, she underwent non-surgical treatment for a gallstone that had caused an infection.
She was hospitalized last November while suffering from a fever and chills, but returned to work at the court the day after being released.
In August 2019, she underwent radiation therapy to treat pancreatic cancer. In November 2018, she broke three ribs in a fall. Subsequent medical tests led to treatment for lung cancer that caused her to miss oral arguments in January 2019. She had previously been treated for pancreatic cancer in 2009 and colon cancer in 1999.
The Supreme Court ended its nine-month term on July 9, after hearing a number of oral arguments by teleconference for the first time in its history in response to health concerns raised by the coronavirus pandemic.
(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Will Dunham and Diane Craft)