U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits onstage as the third speaker of the David Berg Distinguished Speakers Series, during an event organized by the Museum of the City of New York with WNET-TV held at the New York Academy of Medicine Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (AP Photo | Rebecca Gibian)

Ginsburg Misses Supreme Court Arguments For First Time After Cancer Surgery

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Updated 10:35 a.m. ET

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is not taking part in today’s oral arguments before the court.

The 85-year old liberal justice underwent surgery for cancer last month and also recently broke several ribs after a fall.

Ginsburg has not missed a day of arguments since she was confirmed to the court in 1993.

Ginsburg had hoped to be back on the court for arguments, but Dr. Douglas Mathisen, chairman of thoracic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, warned that getting back to work too quickly after this kind of surgery could mean “one step forward and five steps back.”

Ginsburg is expected to make a full recovery and be back on the court.

“These days we are seeing more and more patients in their 70s and 80s make relatively quick recoveries,” Mathisen said last month before Ginsburg’s surgery, “because we are detecting so many more lung cancers at early stages” when treatment is far more effective and successful.

This is Ginsburg’s third bout with cancer. In 1999, she was treated for colorectal cancer, a decade later, she was treated for pancreatic cancer.

Ginsburg is one of four ideologically liberal justices on the court. President Trump has shifted the court in a more conservative direction, appointing two Supreme Court justices — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh replaced the court’s swing justice, Anthony Kennedy, for whom he clerked.

The court this term has deliberately avoided politics in the cases it’s hearing, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, but the prospect of Trump appointing a third justice has liberals very nervous, especially as the 2020 elections approach.

Ginsburg has become a cultural icon for the left, with a nickname of the “Notorious RBG” getting attached to her for her sharp dissents, and in the past year, there have been at least two widely distributed motion pictures memorializing her life — the “RBG” documentary, which premiered at Sundance last year and “On the Basis of Sex,” which is out in theaters now. Ginsburg is played by Felicity Jones.

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