Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a prominent liberal who at age 85 is the oldest U.S. Supreme Court justice, was hospitalized on Thursday after fracturing three ribs in a fall the night before at her office at the court, a court spokeswoman said.
Ginsburg, appointed in 1993 by former President Bill Clinton as only the second woman to serve on the high court, initially went home after the fall, but experienced discomfort overnight and went to George Washington University Hospital on Thursday morning, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement.
Tests showed Ginsburg fractured three ribs on her left side and she was admitted for observation and treatment, Arberg added. The court is not scheduled to hear its next arguments in cases until Nov. 26.
Even though she has bounced back from previous medical issues, as the oldest justice, Ginsburg is closely watched for any signs of deteriorating health. Ginsburg has fallen twice before at her home, in 2012 and 2013, leading to rib injuries. She was treated in 1999 for colon cancer and again in 2009 for pancreatic cancer, both serious forms of cancer, but did not miss any argument sessions either time.
An advocate for women’s rights, Ginsburg is one of the court’s four liberals. The court’s 5-4 conservative majority was restored last month when the Senate confirmed Republican President Donald Trump’s appointee Brett Kavanaugh after a contentious nomination process in which Kavanaugh denied a sexual assault allegation dating to the 1980s.
If Ginsburg were unable to continue serving, Trump likely would move swiftly to replace her with a conservative, further shifting the court to the right. A potentially dominant 6-3 conservative majority would have major consequences for issues including abortion, the death penalty, voting rights, gay rights, religious liberty, business litigation, and presidential powers.
New Yorkers showing support to Ruth
Born in Brooklyn, New York, and a graduate of Columbia Law School, Ruth has gotten a lot of support from across the U.S. but particularly her hometown following the hospitalization.
Ginsburg is a hero among many U.S. liberals, sometimes called “The Notorious R.B.G.” in a nickname based on the late American rapper The Notorious B.I.G. A documentary film about her, “R.B.G.,” was released earlier this year. A biographical film about her, called “On the Basis of Sex” and starring Felicity Jones, is being released next month.
Ginsburg has helped buttress equality rights during her time on the high court, including in sex discrimination cases, and has been a champion of abortion rights and gay rights. In 2010, after the retirement of more senior liberals, she became the court’s voice of liberalism on behalf of women, racial minorities and the poor and disenfranchised.
People have been expressing support, love, spells and even offers to donate ribs or other organs from social media.
By my count about 12,475 of you have offered all your ribs to RBG so she should be set for at least the rest of this administration.
— Madison Malone Kircher (@4evrmalone) November 8, 2018
I hereby donate all of my ribs and organs to Ruth Bader Ginsburg
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) November 8, 2018
brb teaching myself witchcraft so I can keep RBG healthy for the next four years
— Gwen Mesco (@messily) February 1, 2017
— Bryan Wilson (@bryangalactic) November 8, 2018
— Jordan Ross (@jordanrosstv) November 8, 2018
Reporting by Reuters and Metro Staff Writer Anna Harstedt.