Who is Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Health of Liberal Justice in US Supreme Court is Closely Watched

The US supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been admitted to hospital for treatment for a possible infection.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been admitted to the hospital and is receiving treatment for a possible infection, according to a court spokeswoman. "Justice Ginsburg was admitted to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, early this morning for treatment of a possible infection," spokeswoman Kathleen Arberg said on Tuesday.

"She was initially evaluated at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. last night after experiencing fever and chills. She underwent an endoscopic procedure at Johns Hopkins this afternoon to clean out a bile duct stent that was placed last August. The Justice is resting comfortably and will stay in the hospital for a few days to receive intravenous antibiotic treatment."

Advocate for Gender Equality, Civil Rights

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg Wikimedia Commons

Ginsburg is the oldest judge on the supreme court at 87 and is a native Brooklyn, New York. In 1993, she became the second woman ever to serve on the United States Supreme Court, after being appointed by former president Bill Clinton.

During her time as a judge, she has continued to be a leading voice for gender equality, women's rights, and civil rights and liberties. She also advocated as a volunteer lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.

In 1996, she famously authored the majority opinion in the landmark ruling of the United States v. Virginia case, which qualified women could not be denied admission to Virginia Military Institute. The military college had a long-standing male-only admission policy.

She has authored other notable majority opinions, including in Olmstead v. L.C., a 1999 case regarding discrimination against people with mental disabilities.

Notorious R.B.G.

Ginsburg is generally viewed as belonging to the liberal wing of the court and is known for her fiery dissents, earning her the nickname "Notorious RBG," a play on the name of the late rapper Notorious B.I.G.

Her dissents in recent years have continued to appease Democrats at a time when Republicans control the White House and the Senate while the Supreme Court moves rightward. That trend continued when she filed a fierce dissent earlier this month as the court majority upheld the Trump regulation that lets employers with religious or moral objections limit women's access to birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

History of Medical Issues

The news of her hospitalization is the latest development in a lengthy history of medical issues that Ginsburg has suffered from over the years, although she has proven time and again that she's a force to be reckoned with as she continues her job without interruption.

When the justices heard oral arguments via telephone in May due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ginsburg participated from her hospital room while still recovering from a benign gallbladder condition. Ginsburg had not missed a day of oral arguments, not even when she was undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, after surgery for colon cancer, or the day after her husband passed away in 2010.

Ginsburg missed oral arguments for the first time in January 2019, while recovering from lung cancer surgery. The health of the liberal justice is closely watched because a supreme court vacancy would give Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a third justice to the nine-member court and push it further to the right. The court currently has a 5-4 conservative majority.

Since coming to office, President Donald Trump has made two appointments, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, deepening the conservative tilt.