Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Back on Bench After Illness

November 18, 2019 Updated: November 18, 2019

The oldest justice on the Supreme Court is back on the bench on Nov. 18 after missing arguments due to an illness.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, missed oral arguments for multiple cases “due to illness,” Chief Justice John Roberts said from the bench on Nov. 13.

Ginsburg was at home with a stomach bug, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement sent to reporters.

Ginsburg returned to the bench for a 10-minute session that saw new members being admitted into the court’s bar.

“As has become custom, Justice [Clarence] Thomas held her hand to help her down the steps leaving the bench,” Bloomberg reporter Greg Stohr reported from the court.

Ginsburg’s health is closely watched by people on both sides of the political aisle due to the possibility President Donald Trump could get his third Supreme Court nomination if she leaves.

trump moves to dismiss motion
President Donald Trump listens during a joint news conference with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the East Room of the White House in Washington on Nov. 13, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in a lecture at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington on Sept. 26, 2018. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Ginsburg has undergone multiple cancer treatments in recent years, one of them after she fell and broke her ribs. Doctors addressing the injury detected cancer in Ginsburg’s lungs, which was then treated.

Ginsburg was nominated by then-President Bill Clinton and has said she wants to serve until she’s at least 90.

Trump previously nominated Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who were both confirmed.

Ginsburg has openly opposed Trump several times.

In 2016, she said: “I can’t imagine what this place would be—I can’t imagine what the country would be—with Donald Trump as our president. For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be—I don’t even want to contemplate that.”

“I don’t want to think about that possibility, but if it should be, then everything is up for grabs,” Ginsburg said in an interview in July 2016.

That same month, Ginsburg said: “He is a faker. He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. … How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns?”

Several days later, Ginsburg apologized, saying her remarks were “ill-advised.”

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