Politics

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returns to the court for the first time since her cancer surgery in December

Key Points
  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be at the court for a private conference on Friday, marking the first time that she has attended a conference in person since she underwent cancer surgery last month.
  • The development comes about seven weeks after surgeons removed about half of Ginsburg's left lung in a Dec. 21 operation.
President Barack Obama (C) greets (L-R) Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer before the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on Jan. 25, 2011.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be at the court for a private conference on Friday, marking the first time that she has attended a conference in person since she underwent cancer surgery nearly two months ago.

The development comes after surgeons removed about half of Ginsburg's left lung in a Dec. 21 operation. The justice, who turns 86 next month, has appeared only briefly in public since her surgery, and until Friday the court had not provided any guidance about when she was expected to return.

The announcement was made in a brief email sent by court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe Estrada, who wrote that "Justice Ginsburg is attending conference today."

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg undergoes lung procedure to remove cancerous growth

The last private conference took place on Jan. 18, according to the court calendar.

Ginsburg had been working from home as she recovered from the procedure. Cancer doctors with experience performing pulmonary lobectomies — the type of operation that Ginsburg had — said that a typical recovery period would allow Ginsburg to return to the court in time for its February sitting. The justices are scheduled to hear the first oral arguments of the month on Tuesday.

The justices will consider which cases they plan to review during Friday's conference. One case that is expected to be granted concerns the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. A federal judge in New York blocked the addition of the question in a lengthy ruling last month.

Ginsburg's health has been the subject of intense public scrutiny, and has sparked the generation of a nebulous web of conspiracy theories among those on the right.

The nine-member court is currently divided 5-4 among Republican and Democratic appointees. Ginsburg's departure from the bench would likely allow President Donald Trump to nominate her replacement, further solidifying the conservative majority.

Ginsburg is a senior member of the court's liberal wing, and a popular public figure whose rise to the top court was dramatized in a recent movie, "On the Basis of Sex," that was released last year and starred Felicity Jones.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg's famous women's rights cases centered around money