Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Credit: European University Institute/Flickr

I have good news and I have bad news. The bad news is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg just underwent surgery at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The good news is that the surgery went well.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had two cancerous nodules removed from her left lung Friday at a New York hospital, the Supreme Court announced.

There is no evidence of any remaining disease, says a court spokesperson, nor is there evidence of disease elsewhere in the body.

The 85-year-old justice was hospitalized last month after a fall in her office, in which she fractured three ribs.

In 1999, Ginsburg underwent surgery for colorectal cancer, and 10 years later she was treated for early stages of pancreatic cancer.

Apparently, the disease was detected early and fortuitously as a result of scans taken after she fractured her ribs. Since there is no current evidence of metastasis, it’s possible that she will make a full recovery.

At times like this, it’s always somewhat crass to talk politically, but everyone hearing this news is thinking the same thing, which is that it could have a very lasting impact on the makeup of the Supreme Court if Donald Trump (or Mike Pence) gets to pick Ginsburg’s replacement.

There will be time to discuss that nightmare scenario some other time. For now, we should just be grateful that the cancer was detected at an early stage and that the surgery went well.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at