Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced Friday that she is undergoing chemotherapy to treat a recurrence of cancer, this time in the liver, but that she doesn’t plan to step down from her post on the nation’s high court.
In a statement distributed by the court, Ginsburg said that she began cancer treatment on May 19, but opted not to announce the news until her “treatment course” was “clear.”
She also indicated that her recent hospital visit on Tuesday to treat a possible infection was unrelated to the cancer.
The 87-year-old justice added that following an initial unsuccessful attempt at immunotherapy, the chemotherapy has yielded positive results.
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“My most recent scan on July 7 indicated significant reduction of the liver lesions and no new disease. I am tolerating chemotherapy well and am encouraged by the success of my current treatment,” she said. “I will continue bi-weekly chemotherapy to keep my cancer at bay, and am able to maintain an active daily routine. Throughout, I have kept up with opinion writing and all other Court work.
“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she concluded. “I remain fully able to do that.”
Ginsburg’s health is of particular importance given the fact that this is a presidential election year. Should the justice need to step down, it would open up the possibility for President Trump to appoint a third Supreme Court justice in his first term.
Trump has already appointed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in 2018, respectively.
Even with Ginsburg remaining on the court, the news of her health issues raise the specter that she could be on her way off the court sooner rather than later, making a SCOTUS appointment a definitive hot-button 2020 campaign issue. Ginsburg, , the oldest sitting member of the Supreme Court, is considered to be a liberal justice.
Ginsburg has had several recent health complications, including battles with cancer. A few months ago she was taken to Johns Hopkins for non-surgical treatment of a gallbladder condition, and twice last year she was hospitalized to have cancerous tumors removed.