WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a four-time cancer survivor, is back in the hospital after experiencing chills and fever Friday night.
Ginsburg, 86, was first admitted to Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington before being transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for treatment of any possible infection, the court's press office announced Saturday evening.
She was treated with intravenous antibiotics and fluids and thereafter improved, the court said. She hopes to be released as early as Sunday morning.
Ginsburg, the leader of the court's liberal minority, missed a day of oral argument last week because of a stomach illness, less than three months after completing treatment for her fourth bout with cancer.
The justice also missed two weeks of oral arguments in January following surgery for lung cancer, marking the first time in her 26-year Supreme Court career she had been absent. Then in August, she underwent three weeks of radiation for pancreatic cancer.
The justice's first encounters with cancer came in 1999, when she had colon cancer, and in 2009, when she had her first bout with pancreatic cancer, a particularly deadly form.
Ginsburg has become a cultural icon during her third decade on the high court. She has kept up a rigorous travel schedule around oral arguments, most recently appearing at Georgetown University Law Center alongside the president who nominated her in 1993, Bill Clinton, and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Had Hillary Clinton won that election, Ginsburg likely would have retired by this year, content to be replaced by another liberal associate justice. But with President Donald Trump in the White House, she needs to remain on the court for at least another 14 months – and hope a Democrat defeats him in 2020 – in order deny Trump a third nomination and conservatives a 6-3 majority on the nation's highest court. Trump named Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh in his first two years in office.
Ginsburg has vowed to stay on the job "as long as I'm healthy and mentally agile." She remains an active participant during oral arguments, often asking the first question. In recent years, she also has been one of the quickest among her colleagues to finish writing opinions.
But her health took a turn late last year after she fell in her office and cracked several ribs. The hospitalization that followed led to the discovery of lung cancer, which in turn led to her absence from the court in January while recovering from surgery.
Her bout with pancreatic cancer this summer was her second with that particularly deadly form. The average five-year survival rate is 9%, lowest of all cancers. Ginsburg has lived 10 years since her first bout.
"As cancer survivors know, that dread disease is a challenge, and it helps to know that people are rooting for you," she said during a visit to the famed 92nd Street Y in New York City in September.
Before her latest cancer was diagnosed, Ginsburg said she hoped to stay on the bench for at least five more years, noting that Associate Justice John Paul Stevens served until age 90. Stevens died in July at 99.
Ginsburg's predicament is similar to that faced by the court's last civil rights pioneer, Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall, in 1991. With his health declining as he approached his 83rd birthday, he retired during the third year of Republican George H.W. Bush's presidency.
Marshall ultimately lived four days into the administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton. But by then his seat was held by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, still the court's most conservative member.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg back in hospital