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Justice Ginsburg Told Audience Her Health Was ‘Fine’ Days Before Cancer Operation

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said she was in good health during a public appearance in New York City Saturday, just days before she had surgery for lung cancer at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg interviewed Ginsburg at the Museum of the City of New York on Dec. 15, where she asked the 85-year-old justice about her health.

“It’s fine, thank you,” Ginsburg replied.

She went on to say that she had resumed her vaunted fitness regiment with her personal trainer after fracturing three ribs in a November fall at her chambers in the Supreme Court.

Less than a week later, doctors removed two cancerous nodules from her left lung. The procedure is called a pulmonary lobectomy.

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Medical personnel at the George Washington University Hospital had made the diagnosis in November while her fractured ribs were treated.

The Supreme Court’s public information office did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

There is no standardized process for Supreme Court justices to make disclosures as to their health, and the justices themselves are sometimes imprecise about their ailments or overall well-being.

For example, Chief Justice William Rehnquist underwent a tracheotomy in 2004 relating to his thyroid cancer. That procedure is not typical of thyroid cancer treatment, however, prompting speculation as to possible complications and his general prognosis.

Should SCOTUS justices be required to disclose health concerns?

The House Judiciary Committee adopted legislation that would require the justices to submit to regular medical exams on Sept. 13.

Among other things, the bill requires the attending physician to inform the chief judge or justice of a particular court if they make a diagnosis of any condition that would inhibit a member of the court from fulfilling his or her duties.

The high court said Friday’s surgery was successful. Pre-surgery scans “indicated no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” according to Ginsburg’s surgeon, Dr. Valerie Rusch.

“Currently, no further treatment is planned,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement Friday. “Justice Ginsburg is resting comfortably and is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days.”

The Supreme Court is currently adjourned for the holidays. The justices are not scheduled to meet again until Jan. 4, when they will discuss pending petitions. Oral arguments will resume on Jan. 7.

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Justice Ginsburg has never missed a day of official business. She even continued her work as a justice while receiving chemo and radiation therapy for colon cancer in 1999. However, she was absent for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s ceremonial investiture on Nov. 8 due to her fractured ribs.

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