WASHINGTON — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participated in Tuesday’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court — marking the first time she had done so in more than two months since undergoing surgery for lung cancer.
At 10 o’clock, when the justices entered the courtroom, Ginsburg followed Chief Justice John Roberts in coming out from behind the curtain to take the bench, walking surely and taking her seat next to the chief justice. As arguments began, Ginsburg dove right into the discussion, asking the first question — a look at the scope of a company’s claim under patent law.
Focus on Ginsburg’s health — she had part of her lung removed in the December 21 surgery — reached a fever pitch after she missed arguments in January, her first-ever absence from arguments since joining the high court in 1993. Politico reported soon thereafter that the White House and Senate allies were preparing a short list to fill a vacancy should Ginsburg need to leave the bench.
The court’s public information office told reporters that Ginsburg was working from home and recovering throughout January and she did participate in a handful of votes — including a 5-4 vote keeping a Louisiana abortion law on hold — taken by the court since her surgery.
The court issued a statement the day after the Politico report was published, stating that Ginsburg’s “recovery from surgery is on track,” that her doctors found no other evidence of “remaining disease” in post-surgery evaluation, and that no further treatment was needed.
The 85-year-old justice was later spotted at a public event on Feb. 4 and, according to the court’s public information office, was back at the court for the justices’ private conference on Feb. 15.