Justice Ginsburg hospitalized with fractured ribs after fall
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a critical liberal voice on the Supreme Court, was hospitalized Thursday morning with three broken ribs after falling in her office the day before.
Ginsburg, 85, went home after her fall Wednesday evening and experienced discomfort during the night, a Supreme Court spokeswoman, Kathy Arberg, said in a statement. She was admitted to George Washington University Hospital on Thursday morning for observation and treatment. Doctors found three broken ribs on her left side.
The next sitting of the Supreme Court begins Nov. 26, and Ginsburg’s history suggests the injuries are not likely to keep her away. She broke two ribs in 2012, without missing work. And she returned to work quickly after undergoing a heart procedure in 2012. She is also a cancer survivor and returned to work less than three weeks after having surgery.
Ginsburg is the linchpin of the four-member liberal minority on a Supreme Court that has shifted ideologically to the right under President Donald Trump. In less than two years in office, he has appointed two justices, and he has vowed to fill any further openings with more staunch conservatives. A third Trump appointment to the court would give it a dominant 6-3 conservative majority.
Ginsburg is the court’s oldest member, a reality not lost on liberals who had already been jittery about how much more time she will be able to serve.
“I think all there is to say at this point is that I – and hopefully all of us – wish Justice Ginsburg all of the best for a full and speedy recovery,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California, Berkeley.
Broken ribs are usually painful and could puncture the lung, depending on the specifics of the break. Arberg, the court’s spokeswoman, did not provide additional details about how Ginsburg fell or whether she fell because of another medical condition. Broken ribs typically take about six weeks to heal, but it varies from case to case.
By midday, Trump had not publicly commented on Ginsburg’s hospitalization. In the morning, the president attended a formal ceremony at the Supreme Court for Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was sworn in last month. All the justices were there except Ginsburg.
Trump has been critical of Ginsburg, saying in 2016 that “her mind is shot” and suggesting that she resign. His sharp words came after Ginsburg mocked Trump in a series of interviews. She later said she had made a mistake in publicly commenting on a candidate and promised to be more “circumspect” in the future.
Ginsburg was appointed to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. Originally from New York, she speaks with a hint of a Brooklyn accent and once described herself as “this little tiny little woman.”
The justice, who is known for her lifetime of work fighting for women’s rights, was the subject of a documentary over the summer, and Hollywood is making a movie from her life story. She gained social media popularity in recent years with her own meme and nickname, “Notorious R.B.G.”
As the news about Ginsburg spread on social media Thursday, some Twitter users volunteered to donate their ribs to her, and others called for protective Bubble Wrap to be sent her way.
During the Obama administration, Chemerinsky and other liberals called for Ginsburg to step down sometime during the summer before the 2014 midterm elections so President Barack Obama could name her successor. The Democrats went on to cede control of the Senate – and thus the ability to confirm Supreme Court justices – in those elections.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg sustained three broken ribs after falling in her office Wednesday.