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Supreme Court's Ginsburg discharged from hospital

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at 87 the U.S. Supreme Court’s oldest member, was discharged on Wednesday from hospital where she was treated for a benign gall bladder condition and took part remotely in arguments in two cases.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg participates in a discussion hosted by the Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., U.S., September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Ginsburg is “doing well and glad to be home” after being discharged from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Earlier in the day, her participation in two arguments, conducted by teleconference amid the coronavirus pandemic, marked the latest instance in which the liberal justice withstood a health scare and returned swiftly to her duties on the court, where she has served since 1993. Ginsburg asked a number of questions and her voice sounded hesitant at times but largely remained firm.

Ginsburg will return to the Baltimore hospital for outpatient visits in the following weeks, and a gallstone that caused the infection will be removed without the need for a surgical procedure, Arberg added. Ginsburg was treated for pancreatic cancer last year.

The first case involved an Obamacare requirement regarding health insurance coverage for women’s birth control. The second involved a federal law cracking down on so-called robocalls.

In the first case, Ginsburg posed lengthy questions expressing doubt over a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to implement rules allowing employers to obtain religious exemptions from the contraception mandate.

She told the administration’s lawyer, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, that it has “tossed entirely to the wind what Congress considered to be essential, that women be provided this service, with no hassle and no cost to them.”

On Tuesday, Ginsburg was treated for an inflammatory condition of the gallbladder known as acute cholecystitis.

Her hospitalization could have posed a risk as it comes amid a pandemic that continues to surge throughout the United States and around the world. The coronavirus has proven to be particularly dangerous in elderly people, especially those with underlying medical issues.

Ginsburg has had several health scares in recent years. In November 2018, she broke three ribs in a fall. Subsequent medical tests led to treatment for lung cancer that caused her to miss arguments in January 2019. She returned to the bench, but in August 2019 received radiation therapy to treat pancreatic cancer.

She was hospitalized last November for two nights suffering from a fever and chills but returned to work at the court the day after being released.

Her health is closely watched because a Supreme Court vacancy would give Republican President Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a third justice to the nine-member court and move it further to the right. The court currently has a 5-4 conservative majority including two justices appointed by Trump.

Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham and Cynthia Osterman

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