US Supreme Court justice undergoes heart procedure

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, (above) underwent a heart procedure on Wednesday to open a blocked coronary artery after experiencing discomfort while exercising, a spokeswoman said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 81, (above) underwent a heart procedure on Wednesday to open a blocked coronary artery after experiencing discomfort while exercising, a spokeswoman said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a heart procedure on Wednesday to open a blocked coronary artery after experiencing discomfort while exercising, a spokeswoman said.

The 81-year-old Ginsburg, a liberal on the nine-justice panel, was taken to the hospital late on Tuesday and had a stent placed in her right coronary artery early on Wednesday, said a court spokeswoman, Kathy Arberg.

"The coronary blockage was discovered after Justice Ginsburg experienced discomfort during routine exercise last night and was taken to the hospital," she said in a statement.

"She is resting comfortably and is expected to be discharged in the next 48 hours," she said.

Ginsburg told an interviewer earlier this year she did not plan to retire "as long as I can do the job full steam."

Appointed to the top court by president Bill Clinton in 1993, she has had serious medical setbacks before, although they have had little apparent impact on her work.

In 1999, she underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatment after being diagnosed with colon cancer.

In 2009, she was operated on for pancreatic cancer.