Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized on Tuesday for an infection related to a gallstone. The specific medical term is cholecystis, and it is explained as a fairly common, but potentially dangerous, issue by the Mayo Clinic:
Cholecystitis (ko-luh-sis-TIE-tis) is inflammation of the gallbladder. Your gallbladder is a small, pear-shaped organ on the right side of your abdomen, beneath your liver. The gallbladder holds a digestive fluid that’s released into your small intestine (bile).
In most cases, gallstones blocking the tube leading out of your gallbladder cause cholecystitis. This results in a bile buildup that can cause inflammation. Other causes of cholecystitis include bile duct problems, tumors, serious illness and certain infections.
If left untreated, cholecystitis can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening complications, such as a gallbladder rupture. Treatment for cholecystitis often involves gallbladder removal.
The Justice has already been treated, although hospital staff has not specified whether she has had her gallbladder removed. She is said to be resting and recovering, and is well enough to participate in oral arguments before the court.
Special accommodations do not have to be made for the cases, as the session began on Monday using the unprecedented step of arguments being made by telephone. The change in procedure was due to an abundance of caution associated with potential covid-19 transmission. All of the Supreme Court Justices are within the age span regarded as most susceptible to death due to the virus.
Ginsburg’s illness and presence in the hospital, however short the visit might be, is another reminder of the health issues the Justice faces. She has, to date, survived four bouts with cancer.
Ginsburg has pledged to remain on the court until the end of Trump’s term. Should she die from illness prior to November, Republicans will undoubtedly seize upon her passing as an opportunity to rally their base to the voting booth at a time when the economy is struggling, trillions are being thrown at Wall Street and the United States is failing to handle the covid-19 issue without the daily deaths of thousands of American citizens.
Ginsburg is expected to return home fairly quickly after the infection is cleared.