July 31, 2007 / 1:28 AM / 12 years ago

Chief Justice Roberts has seizure, falls

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts suffered a seizure and was taken to the hospital on Monday but a neurological evaluation showed no cause for concern, a Supreme Court spokeswoman said.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts smiles before speaking at Northwestern University Law School in Chicago, February 1, 2007. Roberts, 52, was taken to hospital after falling at his home in Maine, CNN reported on Monday. REUTERS/John Gress

“Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. took a fall about 2 p.m. today near his summer home in Maine after suffering what doctors describe as a benign idiopathic seizure,” court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in a statement.

Arberg said Roberts, 52, suffered minor scrapes in the fall but said he was “fully recovered” from the incident. He will stay overnight at the hospital as a precaution.

“He was taken by ambulance to Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Maine, where he underwent a thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern,” Arberg said.

Roberts experienced a similar seizure in 1993, Arberg said.

Seizures occur because of sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain. They can often cause a person’s body to shake rapidly and uncontrollably, but not all seizures cause convulsions, according to Medline Plus Web site.

An idiopathic seizure is one that has no known cause. Most seizures last from 30 seconds to two minutes and do not cause lasting harm, Medline Plus said. Seizures can have many causes, including medications, high fevers, head injuries and certain diseases.

Roberts is the youngest of the nine Supreme Court justices, who are all appointed to life terms. He has no known medical conditions.

The chief justice was at his home near Port Clyde, Maine when he suffered the seizure. The area around Port Clyde, midway up the coast of Maine, is known as a summer vacation spot. Roberts and his wife, Jane, purchased the home about a year ago.

The incident occurred during the Supreme Court’s three-month summer recess. If a justice was incapacitated while the court was in session, the other eight would continue to hear cases and write rulings.

Roberts, a conservative, was appointed to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush. He took his seat on September 29, 2005, succeeding William Rehnquist, who died of cancer.

Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, Bush’s other appointment to the court, helped push the court to the right in its just-ended term on issues including abortion and race in schools.

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