Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent home after heart stent implanted

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sent home after heart stent implanted
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg AP (File)

WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from the hospital Thursday after having a heart stent implanted to clear a blocked artery, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said.

The 81-year-old jurist was sent home and was expected to be at work when the court hears its next round of oral arguments on Monday, spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

Ginsburg was rushed to MedStar Washington Hospital Center late Tuesday after experiencing discomfort during exercise with a personal trainer.

She has had a series of health problems, including colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.

The justice, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, has rejected suggestions from some liberals that she should step down and give President Barack Obama a chance to name her successor.

Her hospitalization just three weeks after elections handed Republicans control of the Senate raised anew the question whether Obama would be able to appoint a like-minded replacement.

Ginsburg’s procedure came after a blockage was discovered in her right coronary artery, Arberg said.

Ginsburg, who leads the court’s liberal wing, has for years been fending off questions about whether she should retire and give a Democratic president a chance to name her successor. In addition to two cancer operations, she was hospitalized after a bad reaction to medicine in 2009 and suffered broken ribs in a fall two years ago.

But the court’s oldest justice has not missed any time on the job since joining the high court.

For several years, liberal academics have been calling on Ginsburg and, to a lesser extent, 76-year-old justice Stephen Breyer, to step down to ensure that Obama could nominate a younger justice with similar views.

Lawyers who are close to the Obama administration have made the same argument, but more quietly.

In one sense, it’s already late for that, because the Senate will be in Republican hands come January, making confirmation more difficult.

Still, the picture would look worse yet for the Democrats if a Republican should win the presidential election in 2016. A retirement then by a liberal justice would allow the appointment of a more conservative justice and potentially flip the outcome in important 5-4 decisions in death penalty, abortion, even gay rights cases in which the liberal side sometimes prevails.

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