Ruth Bader Ginsburg discharged from hospital after infection scare

Martin Pengelly in New York and agencies
Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was discharged from hospital on Sunday, after being treated for a possible infection.

A court spokeswoman said Ginsburg was “doing well”. The 86-year-old spent two nights at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore, where she was taken on Friday after experiencing chills and fever.

The court said Ginsburg received intravenous antibiotics and fluids and that her symptoms abated.

Appointed by Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg is the senior liberal on a court split 5-4 in favour of conservative justices, after two appointments under Donald Trump.

Only Clarence Thomas, 71 and appointed by George HW Bush in 1991, has served longer among current members of the court.

Ginsburg’s health is closely watched by Democrats and Republicans alike.

She has had four occurrences of cancer, including two in the past year. She had lung cancer surgery in December and received radiation treatment for a tumour on her pancreas in August.

In mid-November, Ginsburg had a rare absence from a public session because of what the court said was a stomach bug. Her latest hospital stay began after the justices met in private to discuss pending cases.

Ginsburg was evaluated at Sibley Memorial hospital in Washington before being transferred to Johns Hopkins for further evaluation and treatment.

Supreme court appointments are for life, although justices can retire.

Trump’s first pick, Neil Gorsuch, replaced Antonin Scalia, another arch-conservative who died in February 2016.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, held Scalia’s seat open, refusing to consider Barack Obama’s nomination of a moderate, Merrick Garland, and citing alleged precedent that president’s should not fill a supreme court seat in their final year in the White House.

McConnell has said he would fill any vacancy arising in the final year of Trump’s first term in office – provoking fury among progressives.

Trump’s second pick, Brett Kavanaugh, was appointed after Anthony Kennedy retired. A forthcoming book by the Washington Post editor Ruth Marcus contains the revelation that Kennedy asked Trump to include Kavanaugh on his shortlist.

Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate, tilting the court to the right, after a bitter confirmation process marked by allegations of sexual assault which Kavanaugh furiously denied.