Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is slated to
return to work tomorrow. Ginsburg has been absent from Court functions since
early December when she underwent surgery to remove cancerous masses from one
of her lungs.
Ginsburg, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in
1993, broke three ribs in a fall last November. Her cancer was found as a
result of tests after treatment for the broken ribs. She was previously treated
for colon cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009. She also received a
stent to improve blood flow in her right coronary artery in 2014.
Ginsburg has become the focus of much angst from both the
left and the right. After the appointments of Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh
to the Court by President Trump, liberals rallied around Ginsburg in hopes that
the 85-year-old justice would not be forced to resign before 2020. A 2018
movie even detailed Ginsburg’s early career as an attorney who worked against
On the other side of the political spectrum, Ginsburg’s
illness and subsequent absence have fueled speculation and conspiracy
theories. When she did not make public appearances for several weeks, conspiracists
on the right began to claim that Ginsburg was actually dead, but that her death
was being kept secret to deny Donald Trump a third Supreme Court appointment.
As Ginsburg returns to work, the Court
has an easy week. The justices will hear only two 60-minute arguments. On
Tuesday, the Court will hear Return
Mail Inc. v. USPS, a case that asks whether government agencies can
challenge private patents, and Mission
Product Holdings Inc. v. Tempnology LLC, a trademark licensing case.
As a conservative and a constitutionalist, I often find
myself at odds with Justice Ginsburg’s opinions on Supreme Court cases. Nevertheless,
as a fellow human who abhors cancer, I wish her good health. While I would not
be unhappy to see Justice Ginsburg retire, I cannot find it in myself to participate
in the tinfoil hat crowd’s deathwatch.