Ginsburg says she's being treated for recurrence of cancer, will stay on Supreme Court

Chemotherapy has yielded "positive results," the 87-year-old justice said in a statement.
Image: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ginsburg said in a Friday statement that she intends to keep working.Nikki Kahn / The Washington Post via Getty Images

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By Pete Williams and Sahil Kapur

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed Friday that she is being treated for a recurrence of cancer after lesions were found on her liver.

The 87-year-old justice, a cultural icon and leader of the progressive wing, said she is tolerating chemotherapy well and remains fully able to serve on the court.

In a statement released by the court's spokesman, Ginsburg said a periodic scan in February and a subsequent biopsy, revealed the lesions. Immunotherapy proved unsuccessful, but chemotherapy, which she began receiving May 19, "is yielding positive results," she said in a statement provided by the Supreme Court.

"My most recent scan on July 7 indicated significant reduction of the liver lesions and no new disease. I am tolerating chemotherapy well and am encouraged by the success of my current treatment. I will continue bi-weekly chemotherapy to keep my cancer at bay, and am able to maintain an active daily routine," she continued.

Ginsburg has been treated for cancer four times before. She had surgery for pancreatic cancer 11 years ago and has also been treated for colon cancer. In late 2018, part of a lung was removed after doctors found three cancerous spots.

Ginsburg continued to write Supreme Court opinions through the term that ended earlier this month, authoring more than any of the other justices except Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

She said she intends to keep working.

"Throughout, I have kept up with opinion writing and all other Court work," she said. "I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that."

She was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Her future has been the subject of much speculation on a court that has been closely divided on numerous major issues.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has made it a priority to elevate young conservatives to the federal courts. He declined to allow a Senate vote on President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, to fill a vacancy in 2016, arguing that it was an election year and that the "American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice." But in an apparent reversal, he said last year that if a vacancy were to occur under President Donald Trump in 2020, "we'd fill it."