US Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg, 87, Hospitalised

In this file photo taken on November 30, 2018, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses for the official photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP

United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the 87-year-old anchor of its liberal faction, has been hospitalised for a suspected infection, the court said on Tuesday.

Ginsburg was admitted to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore early Tuesday after first going to her regular Washington hospital late Monday with fever and chills.

She underwent an endoscopic procedure Tuesday afternoon “to clean out a bile duct stent that was placed last August,” the court said in a statement.

Ginsburg “is resting comfortably and will stay in the hospital for a few days to receive intravenous antibiotic treatment.”

One of four liberals among the nine justices, Ginsburg’s health is closely watched as Donald Trump’s administration seeks an opportunity to appoint a new justice who would tilt the court solidly in a conservative direction, potentially shifting US law and social policy for decades.

Supreme Court justices serve until they die or voluntarily retire, and Ginsburg has clung to her position despite her age aware that if she leaves it could change the landscape of US justice.

Together with the centrist Chief Justice John Roberts, the four liberals have prevented a reversal of longstanding abortion rights, stronger executive powers for the president, and greater involvement of religion in public life.

Hugely popular with Democrats, the unintentional social media icon is fondly known as “The Notorious RBG,” a riff on slain rapper The Notorious B.I.G.

She has been hospitalized several times in recent years, including for two days in May to be treated for a benign gallbladder infection.

But her hospital stays have always seen her actively participating in court activities by teleconference.

It was not clear if she took part in court discussions overnight Monday on emergency petitions over the resumption of federal executions as a convicted murderer awaited on death row in an Indiana prison.

The court ruled five to four in favor of going ahead, and hours later the murderer, Daniel Lee, was put to death, in the first federal execution in 17 years.

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