Justice Ginsburg absent from Supreme Court oral argument for first time

A court spokeswoman said Ginsburg, who is 85, was working from home while recuperating from surgery.
Image: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington on June 1, 2017.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington on June 1, 2017.Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file

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By Pete Williams

WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not at the Supreme Court on Monday, missing a courtroom argument for the first time since she became a justice 25 years ago.

Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Ginsburg, who is 85, was working from home while recuperating from surgery. Doctors removed a portion of her lung on December 21 after cancerous nodules were detected, and she was released from the New York hospital four days later.

Chief Justice John Roberts noted her absence when he convened Monday's court session.

"Justice Ginsburg is unable to be present and will participate in the consideration and decision of today's cases on the basis of the written briefs and the oral argument transcript," he said.

There was no word on when she would be back on the bench.

She has made a point of returning to the court promptly after two earlier surgical procedures for cancer in 1999 and 2009, and she was undoubtedly aware of the potent symbolism of those appearances.

The cancerous spots on her lungs were detected when she sought treatment on November 7 for three ribs that were fractured when she fell in her court office.