Opinion: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, liberal voice on the Supreme Court, has pancreatic cancer surgery

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the only woman on the nation’s highest court and one of its most consistent liberal voices, had surgery today for pancreatic cancer.

In a statement, the court announced that Ginsburg, 75, underwent surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York for removal of a cancerous tumor from her pancreas. The court said:

Justice Ginsburg had no symptoms prior to the incidental discovery of the lesion during a routine annual check-up in late January at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. A Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) Scan revealed a small tumor, approximately 1 (centimeter) across, in the center of the pancreas.

Appointed by President Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg was the second woman appointed to the court, an early litigator and strategist for women’s rights.


Though most media coverage portrays the nine justices in ideological terms, the exclusivity of the club tends to make the justices close personally. Ginsburg, well aligned with the court’s left wing, shares a love of opera with conservative icon Antonin Scalia. And Ginsburg, who had colon cancer 10 years ago, has said she misses the company of Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice named by President Reagan. O’Connor left the court in 2006 to care for her sick husband.

-- Johanna Neuman