Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Cancerous Nodules Removed From Lung

There is no evidence of any further disease and the 85-year-old jurist, one of the court's nine justices, is 'resting comfortably,' spokeswoman says

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2018
\ Jim Young/ REUTERS

Liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has had two cancerous nodules removed from her left lung, a court spokeswoman said on Friday. 

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There is no evidence of any further disease and the 85-year-old jurist, one of the court's nine justices, is "resting comfortably," spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a news release. 

The justice was previously hospitalized in November after she fell in her office at the court the night before, fracturing three ribs. She was said to be recovering well the following day. 

Ginsburg, who made her name as an advocate for women's rights, is one of four liberals sitting on the court, to which she was appointed in 1993 by then President Bill Clinton. 

The court's 5-4 conservative majority was restored last month when the Senate confirmed U.S. President Donald Trump's appointee Brett Kavanaugh after a contentious nomination process, in which Kavanaugh denied a sexual assault allegation from his youth. 

If Ginsburg were unable to continue serving, Trump could replace her with a conservative, further shifting the court to the right. A potentially dominant 6-3 conservative majority would have major consequences for issues including abortion, the death penalty, voting rights, gay rights and religious liberty. 

As the oldest justice, Ginsburg is closely watched for any signs of deteriorating health. She has bounced back from previous medical issues and has fallen twice before at her home, in 2012 and 2013, leading to rib injuries. She was treated in 1999 for colon cancer and again in 2009 for pancreatic cancer, but did not miss any argument sessions either time. 

In 2014, doctors placed a stent in her right coronary artery to improve blood flow after she reported discomfort following routine exercise. She was released from a hospital the next day.