Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in a New York City hospital recovering from surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her pancreas. The stunning announcement last Thursday from the Court said Ginsburg, 75, will likely remain in the hospital for the next week.
That statement said Justice Ginsburg showed no symptoms prior to doctors finding the small tumor — approximately one centimeter across — during a routine annual check-up last month. Pancreatic cancer is known for its high mortality rate but there is hope that by catching the disease in its early stages she will fully recover. Ten years ago she fought off colon cancer.
The shocking news about the surgery became an instant point of discussion on various law blogs. Most of the postings also included messages of support. One post called Ginsburg "my home girl on the Court." Another says she's tougher than actor Patrick Swayze, who is himself battling cancer.
The online support also came from those who usually don't agree with her opinions. One of those posters said "I truly hope that she has dodged a bullet with this early catch."
Thomas Goldstein, a lawyer who frequently argues before the Supreme Court and the force behind one of the most popular blogs about the High Court, titled his post about the news "Call Off The RBG Retirement Watch, Before It Starts." In that post he notes that Ginsburg's cancer surgery is likely to spark increased chatter and speculation about her departure from the Court and who President Obama would nominate in her place. Goldstein, in an attempt to tamp down such talk, says Ginsburg is a woman of "surprising toughness" and would be shocked if this development would lead her to leave the Court.
On Friday a Court spokesman told the Associated Press that Ginsburg plans on returning to the bench for the next set of oral arguments set for Feb. 23. However, she has begged off an earlier speaking engagement at Rutgers University Law School.
Ginsburg's seemingly frail movements have sparked speculation for years that she was looking to retire. This belief gained a bit of steam with the election of Barack Obama, who would presumably nominate someone with a judicial outlook similar to hers. But she has recently started hiring clerks for the Court's term that starts in October 2010 — hardly a sign that she's looking to leave.