Ruth Bader Ginsburg hospitalized after Supreme Court fall

Ginsburg has had several health problems but has indicated she has no plans on retiring anytime soon

Published November 8, 2018 10:44AM (EST)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has fractured three ribs in a fall in her office at the Court on Wednesday she and is in the hospital, the Court said Thursday.

Ginsburg went to George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. early Thursday morning after experiencing discomfort overnight. She was admitted to the hospital for treatment and observation after tests showed she fractured three ribs on her left side.

In her absence, the court is still going ahead Thursday with a special courtroom ceremony welcoming Supreme Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed to the court last month after a controversial nomination process that lasted nearly three months. This special ceremony, where colleagues formally welcome the new justice's rise to the bench, is often held after new justices begin their tenure on the high court. President Donald Trump and new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker are expected to attend.

Ginsburg has had a series of health problems. She's a two-time cancer survivor — she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009. In 2012, she fractured two ribs in a fall. In 2014, she underwent a procedure to have a stent implanted to open a blocked coronary artery.

Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg was the second woman appointed to the nation's highest court. She rejected suggestions from some Democrats that she should step down in the first two years of President Barack Obama's second term, when Democrats also held a majority in the Senate and would likely have had little trouble nominating and confirming her successor.

At 85, Ginsburg's work on the court remains in full swing and she has indicated she has no plans to retire anytime soon. She penned three of the highest court's 13 decisions last term and has hired clerks for the term that extends into 2020.

Ginsburg leads the court's liberal wing and is widely heralded as a trailblazer in advocating for women's rights. When he nominated her to the nation's highest court, Clinton compared her legal work to promote women's rights to the work of former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall's on behalf of African-Americans.

Ginsburg's pre-professional life was invigorated and marred by entering spaces where few women had been before. She attended Harvard Law School in 1956 in a class of nine women and about 500 men. Her position there and her credibility were constantly questioned. Ginsburg recalled the dean asking the female students there: "How do you justify taking a spot from a qualified man?"

Ginsburg has become a pop culture icon and liberal hero, known in some circles as "the Great Dissenter" for her sharp dissents on the Supreme Court, and in others as "Notorious RBG," after another Brooklyn legend. She continues to balance her soft-spoken tone with her unrelenting determination regarding her work, and trains hard to stay in fighting shape, with 20 push-ups and minute-long planks to prove it.

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