Justice Ginsburg plans a quick return to the bench
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg plans to be back at work for the court's next public session, less than three weeks after surgery for pancreatic cancer.
Ginsburg intends to be in court when the justices hear arguments on Feb. 23, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said yesterday.
The 75-year-old justice is recuperating at a New York hospital after undergoing surgery on Thursday. Arberg had no other information on Ginsburg's condition.
Ginsburg has been on the court more than 15 years and is its only woman.
Her illness raises the possibility that one of the ideologically divided court's leading liberals might have to curtail her work or even step down before she had planned. Pancreatic cancer is often deadly.
The justice underwent surgery for colon cancer in 1999, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, without missing a day on the bench.
Looking back on her first fight with what she called "a dreadful disease," Ginsburg said her treatment was arduous. But having a job to turn to was a great benefit.
"Work, I found, was the best balm," Ginsburg said in 2001.
Chemotherapy and radiation also are common following pancreatic surgery.
Ginsburg credited the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who died of thyroid cancer in 2005, with helping her through a difficult period.
Ginsburg's plan for a quick return to work hinges on avoiding complications following surgery.
Anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of patients encounter complications, depending on the type of pancreatic surgery.