Thursday, February 5, 2009

Supreme Court Judge Ruth Ginsburg Has Early Stages of Pancreatic Cancer

The most liberal member, and first Jewish woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Ginsburg, was hospitalized with early stages of pancreatic cancer. She had previously battled colo-rectal cancer successfully in 1999.

A blurb about her judicial career, courtesy of wikipedia.

Ginsburg was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Carter in 1980.

President Bill Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on June 14, 1993. During her subsequent confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate, she refused to answer questions regarding her personal views on most issues or how she would adjudicate certain hypothetical situations as a Supreme Court Justice. A number of Senators on the committee came away frustrated, with unanswered questions about how Ginsburg planned to make the transition from an advocate for causes she personally held dear, to a Justice on the highest court in America. Despite this, Ginsburg refused to discuss her beliefs about the limits and proper role of jurisprudence, saying "Were I to rehearse here what I would say and how I would reason on such questions, I would act injudiciously".

At the same time, Ginsburg did answer questions relating to some potentially controversial issues. For instance, she affirmed her belief in a constitutional right to privacy, and explicated at some length on her personal judicial philosophy and thoughts regarding gender equality.[8] The U.S. Senate confirmed her by a 96 to 3 vote[9] and she took her seat on August 10, 1993.

Ginsburg characterizes her performance on the court as a cautious approach to adjudication, and argued in a speech shortly before her nomination to the Supreme Court that "[m]easured motions seem to me right, in the main, for constitutional as well as common law adjudication. Doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped, experience teaches, may prove unstable."[10] Ginsburg has urged that the Supreme Court allow for dialogue with elected branches, while others argue that would inevitably lead to politicizing the court.

Though Ginsburg has consistently supported abortion rights and joined in the Supreme Court's opinion striking down Nebraska's partial-birth abortion law in Stenberg v. Carhart (2000), she has criticized the court's ruling in Roe v. Wade as terminating a nascent, democratic movement to liberalize abortion laws which might have built a more durable consensus in support of abortion rights. She has also been an advocate for using foreign law and norms to shape U.S. law in judicial opinions, in contrast to the textualist views of her colleagues Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito. Despite their fundamental differences, Ginsburg considers Scalia her closest colleague in the Court, often dining and attending operas together.

Ginsburg was diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer in 1999 and underwent surgery followed by chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The condition appears to be arrested.

Ginsburg is part of the "liberal wing" in the current court and has a Segal-Cover score of 0.680 placing her as the most liberal (by that measure, which takes no account of judicial actions post-confirmation) of current justices, although more moderate than those of many other post-War justices. In a 2003 statistical analysis of Supreme Court voting patterns, Ginsburg emerged the second most liberal member of the Court.

Some notable cases in which Ginsburg wrote an opinion:

United States v. Virginia Court Opinion
Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, Inc. Court Opinion
Bush v. Gore Dissenting
Eldred v. Ashcroft Court Opinion
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. Court Opinion

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