A short while ago, FoxNews ran an “In Memoriam” slide for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
Fox has apologized and attributed the mistake to a technical error.
That being said, there is a lot of evidence that a) Ruth Bader Ginsberg inner circle and the Supreme Court bureaucracy is not being terribly transparent about her health, b) she’s not very well and c) a lot official Washington knows this and this is coloring some of the happenings.
On November 8, it was announced that Ginsberg had been hospitalized with three broken ribs suffered in a fall in her office on Wednesday. This was the second time Ginsberg has fallen and broken ribs and it underscores her fragility despite the PR campaign carried out around her rigorous physical fitness program. The interesting thing here is that her hospitalization was not announced for about twelve hours. The day after, it was reported that she was “up and working.”
On December 21, it was reported that Ginsburg had undergone surgery to remove “two non-small cell cancerous lesions, with no lymph node involvement detectable.” Getting back to the transparency issue, no announcement about her health was made until after her surgery. In fact, the public was left with the illusion that she was up and around and on-the-mend when, in fact, she had lung cancer and was being readied for surgery. I don’t see this as a trivial omission. She’s 85, she’s had at least two other reported brushes with cancer, and this is thoracic surgery which I doubt was done under local anesthesia. All of this was newsworthy, all of it was important to know. None of it was revealed until after the fact.
Justice Ginsburg missed all oral arguments last week and cancelled a scheduled January 29 and February 6 appearances.
A couple of other points. The New York Times noted that the Supreme Court is not adding any of the highly controversial cases it has agreed to hear to its docket:
The Supreme Court added eight cases to its docket on Friday, including ones on how gun laws apply to undocumented immigrants and whether the police may have blood drawn from unconscious motorists suspected of drunken driving.
The court took no action on an unusually large number of pending petitions on significant issues, including President Trump’s efforts to shut down a program that shields some 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation and to bar most transgender people from military service.
Other petitions under consideration concern an Indiana abortion law, a New York City gun control ordinance, a New Jersey ruling barring government grants to repair churches and whether a federal civil rights law prohibits job discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender workers.
If the court is to hear any of those cases this term, it will have to act soon. If it does not grant review by next week, the court’s past practices indicate that any cases it does eventually agree to hear will not be argued until its next term starts in October.
One unifying feature of these cases is that they, in the current line-up of the court, are very likely to be close decisions and the court might not want to risk 4-4 decisions (the other implication here is that Roberts may vote with the liberal wing of the court but we’ve been noticing that drift for a while) and then have to re-hear them.
And then there has been the pile-on on people of faith. One nominee for a federal judgeship was asked about his Knights of Columbus affiliation; Karen Pence was attacked for teaching at a private Christian school; and, of course, the disgraceful attacks boys from a Catholic high school over the weekend. All of this makes it seem like there is a pre-emptory disqualification of religious conservatives from consideration to replace Ginsburg.
Odds are that a) Justice Ginsburg’s health is not as good as we are being led to believe and b) she probably will retire in the very near future. Fox running the “In Memoriam” slide was unfortunate but it points out the 800-lb gorilla sitting the the corner.
I’m on Facebook. Drop by and join the fun there.