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US Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has cancer removed from lung

The nodules were discovered last month in x-rays after the Supreme Court Justice fell and fractured three ribs.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, the eldest justice on the US Supreme Court, underwent surgery today to remove two malignant nodules on her left lung.

Ginsburg (85) underwent the pulmonary lobectomy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The nodules were discovered last month in x-rays after she fell and fractured three ribs.

“Both nodules removed during surgery were found to be malignant on initial pathology evaluation,” the court said today. 

“Post-surgery, there was no evidence of any remaining disease,” it added.

“Scans performed before surgery indicated no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Currently, no further treatment is planned.”

It said Ginsburg was “resting comfortably” and would remain in the hospital for “a few days.”

The justice, who was appointed by president Bill Clinton in 1993, is one of four liberals on the nine-member court.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump has had the opportunity to replace two retiring justices, tipping the balance in the conservatives’ favor.

Heavy attention is given to Ginsburg’s health amid liberal worries that, if she dies or has to retire for health reasons, Trump would get another pick and lock the high court into a conservative ideology for a generation to come.

‘Breaking barriers’

Ginsburg - fondly known as “The Notorious RBG,” a riff on slain rapper The Notorious B.I.G. – is a liberal stalwart who has said she will not retire as long as she feels she can do the work.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, into a Jewish family, she attended Cornell University and married a classmate, Martin Ginsburg, right after graduation.

She then studied law, first at Harvard and then Columbia University, at a time when the profession was almost exclusively male.

She graduated at the top of her class at Columbia, yet still, New York law firms snubbed her.

“I had three strikes against me. One, I was Jewish. Two, I was a woman. But the killer was I was a mother of a four-year-old child,” she said in an interview with CBS.

Partly due to the barriers she faced, she became a stubborn advocate for women’s equal rights.

She helped start the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1973, she was named general counsel of the ACLU.

Between 1972 and 1978, Ginsburg argued six gender discrimination cases before the Supreme Court, winning five times, while raising two children.

Almost 40 years later, when people asked her when she’ll be satisfied with the number of women on the Supreme Court, she said: “When there are nine.”

She was the second woman ever to serve on the court, after Sandra Day O’Connor. Only three members of the 100-member Senate opposed her in a confirmation vote.

Since then, she has been a reliable member of the court’s liberal wing, defending abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

Her husband died in 2010, and despite her age, she has missed few days of work at the high court. She works out regularly, and is often seen at the Supreme Court gym in a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words “Super Diva.”

Her health and impressive stamina keep her supporters transfixed.

She was treated for colon cancer in 1999, and a decade later, pancreatic cancer that was caught at an early stage.

In August, she broke three ribs in a fall in her office, and was hospitalized overnight for observation.

She was back at work as soon as the court opened its session at the beginning of September.

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