Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Friday she is receiving chemotherapy for a recurrence of cancer, but has no plans to retire from the Supreme Court.
The 87-year-old Ginsburg, who spent time in the hospital this week for a possible infection, said her treatment so far has succeeded in reducing lesions on her liver and that she will continue chemotherapy sessions every two weeks.
“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that," Ginsburg said in a statement issued by the court.
She said her recent hospitalizations, including one in May, were unrelated to the cancer.
A medical scan in February revealed growths on her liver, she said, and she began chemotherapy in May.
“My most recent scan on July 7 indicated significant reduction of the liver lesions and no new disease," she said. “I am tolerating chemotherapy well and am encouraged by the success of my current treatment."
Earlier this week she was discharged from a hospital after being treated for a possible infection. That and other recent hospitalizations to remove gall stones and treat an infection "were unrelated" to the cancer recurrence, the 87-year-old Ginsburg said.
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Ginsburg, the court's oldest justice, had gone to a hospital in Washington on Monday evening after experiencing fever and chills. She had a procedure at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Tuesday afternoon to clean out a bile duct stent that was placed last August when she was treated for a cancerous tumor on her pancreas. The court said in a statement Tuesday that she would "stay in the hospital for a few days to receive intravenous antibiotic treatment.”
While Ginsburg was said to be doing well, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, asked Wednesday by reporters about the possibility of a vacancy on the court before the election, said President Donald Trump would act quickly if any opening were to arise.
“I can’t imagine if he had a vacancy on the Supreme Court that he would not very quickly make the appointment and look for the Senate to take quick action. That being said, we’re glad Ruth Bader Ginsburg is out of hospital," he said, adding he didn't want any comment to be seen "as we wish her anything but the very best.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said that if there were to be a vacancy on the court during this year's election cycle, the Republican-controlled Senate would likely confirm a nominee selected by Trump. During President Barack Obama’s final year in office, McConnell blocked Obama’s choice of Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, saying the 2016 election should determine who would get to nominate the person to fill Scalia's seat.
Ginsburg, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton and joined the court in 1993, has been treated four times previously for cancer. In addition to the tumor on her pancreas last year, she was previously treated for colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009. She had lung surgery to remove cancerous growths in December 2018.
Ginsburg spent a night in the hospital in May with an infection caused by a gallstone. While in the hospital, she participated in arguments the court heard by telephone because of the coronavirus pandemic.