US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospitalised With Fever

The 86-year-old liberal justice has been admitted to Johns Hopkins hospital for treatment of a possible infection

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been treated for cancer twice in the past year. She was hospitalised on Friday with a fever. Photograph: Jeff Chiu/AP

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the most senior liberal justice on the US Supreme Court, has been taken to hospital after experiencing chills and fever.

In a statement, the court’s public information office said the justice was admitted on Friday night to Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore. She was initially evaluated at Sibley Memorial hospital in Washington before being transferred to Johns Hopkins for further examination treatment of any possible infection.

With intravenous antibiotics and fluids, her symptoms abated and she is expected to be released from the hospital as early as Sunday morning, the statement said.

Earlier this month Ginsburg, 86, suffered what the court described as a stomach bug. She was absent from arguments on 13 November, but returned for the court’s next public meeting on 18 November.

She has been treated for cancer twice in the past year and two other times since 1999. Over the summer she received radiation for a tumour on her pancreas. Last winter she underwent surgery for lung cancer.

Ginsburg was the second woman ever appointed to the court and has become a feminist and pop cultural icon over the years. At 86, she is the oldest member of the court’s liberal wing. The court is divided on a 5-4 conservative majority after Donald Trump appointed two conservatives.

Although Ginsburg has said she wants to remain on the bench as long as she can do the job, liberals and conservatives alike keep a close eye on her health. If she were to leave the bench during Trump’s presidency, the court would most likely be pointed right for decades.

The retirement last summer of swing vote Anthony Kennedy set the stage for the ascent of Brett Kavanaugh, a stringent conservative, in a confirmation process hit by allegations of sexual misconduct.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation came 18 months after Donald Trump’s first pick, Neil Gorsuch, was sworn in as the 113th justice. Gorsuch filled a seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia during Barack Obama’s second term in office. That seat was held open by the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who refused to grant a confirmation hearing to Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland.

To indignant protest from Democrats and progressives, McConnell has said he would fill any vacancy created in Trump’s last year of office.

In June this year, Ginsburg intimated that the court would likely be issuing more 5-4 decisions in watershed cases, saying that she regarded Kennedy’s retirement as “the event of greatest consequence for the current term, and perhaps for many terms ahead”.

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