Health issues could force Ginsburg to leave Court

By Mark Sherman

WASHINGTON – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery Thursday for pancreatic cancer, raising the possibility that one of the ideologically divided court’s leading liberals – and its only woman – might have to curtail her work or even step down before she had planned.

Ginsburg, 75, has been a justice since 1993. She has been increasingly vocal in recent years about the court’s more conservative stances, especially after the appointments made by President George W. Bush.

Pancreatic cancer is often deadly, although the court said doctors apparently found Ginsburg’s growth at an early stage.

In 1999, she had colon cancer surgery, underwent radiation and chemotherapy, and never missed a day on the bench. Statistics suggest this could be a tougher fight.

Ginsburg underwent the surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She will remain in the hospital for seven to 10 days, said her surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan, according to the court.

The justices hold their next private conference on Feb. 20 and return to the bench from their winter break on Feb. 23.

AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report