Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg back at court after cancer bout

Ginsburg (above) had been working from home since her December surgery.
Ginsburg (above) had been working from home since her December surgery.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is back at the court after missing oral arguments in January as she recovered from lung cancer surgery at home, a court official said on Friday (Feb 15).

Ginsburg, who will turn 86 in March, had been working from home and participating and voting in cases since her December surgery by reading argument transcripts and case briefs. She attended the justices' closed-door conference to discuss cases on Friday.

While Ginsburg was expected to attend the next session of oral arguments beginning on Feb 19, court officials could not confirm she would be on the bench next week.

Last month, the court announced that Ginsburg's recovery was on track and that there was "no evidence" of remaining disease.

Ginsburg, who joined the court in 1993, underwent a surgical procedure called a pulmonary lobectomy on Dec 21 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York to remove two cancerous nodules in her left lung.

She was released from the hospital on Dec 25.

Ginsburg missed oral arguments in January for the first time in her lengthy career on the court, fueling speculation about her ability to continue in the job. As the oldest justice, she is closely watched for any signs of deteriorating health.

Ginsburg, appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton, also is the senior liberal member of the court, which has a 5-4 conservative majority.

Ginsburg broke three ribs in a fall in November. The nodules were found as part of the tests the justice underwent after that fall.

She has had other health scares, including two previous cancer diagnoses. Ginsburg 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. She was released from a hospital the next day.

Though she has been working from home, Ginsburg on Feb 4 attended a concert in Washington titled Notorious RBG In Song. She is viewed as something of a cult figure for US liberals, known by that nickname after the late rapper Notorious BIG.

If Ginsburg, one of the court's four liberal members, were unable to continue serving, Trump could replace her with a conservative, further shifting the court to the right. Trump has added two justices since becoming president in January 2017, cementing its 5-4 conservative majority.