The “Notorious R.B.G.,” also known as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is expected to return to the bench by February as she recoups from surgery following a recent bout with lung cancer. Ginsburg, who had half of her left lung removed on Dec. 21 in order to fight back against cancerous growths, missed her first oral arguments in more than 25 years on the bench this past week. According to top doctors familiar with the procedure, the 85-year-old justice appears to be recovering normally and should be able to make an official return to her duties in less than six weeks.
“She’s not even three weeks out. She’s barely two weeks out,” said Raja Flores, the chief of thoracic surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “I think a lot of people are getting scared because they are concerned about the balance of the court, but I’m confident she’s not going anywhere. She’s going to be back on the court.”
Following the recent appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court bench, Republican judges now hold a 5-4 majority in the nation’s highest court. Should Ginsburg retire, Democrats fear that President Donald Trump would then be able to choose the third Supreme Court justice of his term, cementing a conservative majority for the foreseeable future.
But according to doctors, the fact that Ginsburg was recommended a lobectomy indicates that her health was good enough to handle a surgery. That the justice had left the hospital after just four days recovering at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York further implied that her recovery was going smoothly.
“This just seems completely normal,” said Flores. “She’s not going anywhere. She’s with us.”
On February 19, the court is slated to hear oral arguments regarding the Trump Administration’s attempt to add questions about citizenship status into the 2020 census.
A Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed on Friday that no further treatment is required. “Post-surgery evaluation indicates no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required,” said Kathleen Arberg.
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