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US Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 85, breaks three ribs in fall

Updated: 2018-11-09 03:12
File photo: US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in taking a new family photo with her fellow justices at the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, US, June 1, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON, Nov 8 - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a prominent liberal who at age 85 is the oldest US 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 Democratic 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.

Ginsburg, who made her name as an advocate for women's rights, 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.

As the oldest justice, Ginsburg is closely watched for any signs of deteriorating health, even though she has bounced back from previous medical issues.

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.

In 2014, doctors placed a stent in her right coronary artery to improve blood flow after she reported discomfort following routine exercise. She was released from a hospital the next day.

Trump went to the court on Thursday for a formal ceremony welcoming Kavanaugh to the nation's highest court. Kavanaugh was sworn in to the lifetime job last month.

The president sat with first lady Melania Trump at the front of the marble-walled courtroom near the justices' mahogany bench, and made no public remarks.

Some leading congressional Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and outspoken Trump ally Senator Lindsey Graham, attended. The event came a day after Trump fired Jeff Sessions as attorney general. Matthew Whitaker, who Trump named as Sessions' interim replacement, participated in the ceremony.

Reuters

 

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