The supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been taken to hospital after fracturing three ribs in fall at court.
The court says the 85-year-old justice went to George Washington University hospital in Washington early on Thursday after experiencing discomfort overnight. The court said the fall occurred in her office at the court on Wednesday evening.
Observation after tests showed Ginsburg, the court’s oldest justice, fractured three ribs.
Despite her absence, the court went ahead on Thursday with a courtroom ceremony welcoming Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the court last month. Donald Trump and new acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker attended. Kavanaugh was sworn in to the lifetime job last month.
The president sat along with first lady Melania Trump at the front of the marble-walled courtroom near the justices’ mahogany bench, and made no public remarks. Some leading Republicans from the US Congress, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, attended.
Ginsburg broke two ribs in a fall in 2012. She has had two prior bouts with cancer and had a stent implanted to open a blocked artery in 2014.
But she has never missed Supreme Court arguments. The court won’t hear arguments again until after Thanksgiving.
Appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg rebuffed suggestions from some liberals that she should step down in the first two years of Barack Obama’s second term, when Democrats also controlled the Senate and would have been likely to confirm her successor.
She already has hired clerks for the term that extends into 2020, indicating she has no plans to retire.
Ginsburg leads the court’s liberal wing.
If Ginsburg were unable to continue serving on the court, Trump would likely move swiftly to replace her with a conservative, further shifting the court to the right. That would have major consequences for issues including abortion, the death penalty, voting rights, gay rights, business litigation and presidential powers.
Trump has already named two members of the court, adding conservative federal appeals court judges Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed by the Senate last year.
Ginsburg, who made her name as an advocate for women’s rights, voiced support for the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct even as Kavanaugh was about to face a Senate hearing on the allegations against him, saying that unlike in her youth, “women nowadays are not silent about bad behavior.”