Ginsburg Has Health Scare on Airplane

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 20009 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses with other Supreme Court judges for a new group photograph at the Supreme Court in Washington. Supreme Court officials say Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery earlier this year, was briefly hospitalized overnight after having a bad reaction to some medicine. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, FILE) AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery earlier this year, was kept at a hospital overnight after she became drowsy and fell from her seat aboard an airplane. Court officials blamed a reaction to medicine.

This is the second time Ginsburg, 76, has been hospitalized in the last month. She was taken to a hospital on Sept. 24 after falling ill at her Supreme Court office.

She was taken to Washington Hospital Center around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday by paramedics and released Thursday morning, court officials said.

Ginsburg, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia, was heading to London to take part in ceremonies marking the opening of Britain's new Supreme Court.

"Prior to the plane taking off, the justice experienced extreme drowsiness causing her to fall from her seat," a court statement said. "Paramedics were called and the justice was taken to the Washington Hospital Center as a precaution."

The statement said doctors attributed her symptoms to a reaction caused by the combination of a prescription sleeping aid and an over-the-counter cold medicine.

Ginsburg was still in Washington Thursday morning, court officials said. It was not clear whether she would still attempt to make the London trip.

Breyer, who was flying with Ginsburg and got off the plane, took a later flight to London. Roberts and Scalia had taken an earlier flight.

In September, Ginsburg became lightheaded in her office after receiving treatment for anemia, a common side effect of chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. Although she was found to be stable after an examination, the court said she was taken to the hospital by ambulance as a precaution and released the next day.

Ginsburg's health has been watched closely since her cancer surgery in February.

Doctors on Feb. 5 removed a small, malignant growth from Ginsburg's pancreas. Doctors found no spread of it elsewhere, the court said at the time. Her spleen also was removed.

She returned to the court quickly and hasn't missed a day of work since. In March she said the operation had been "a complete, successful, surgical removal" of the cancer. She also said she was to undergo chemotherapy treatment.

It's not uncommon for Justices, especially the older ones, to have ailments from time to time, CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen noted last month. Most recently, the former Chief Justice William Rehnquist was able to perform his duties despite the fact that he was very sick, in many ways more ill than Ginsburg.

"She survived pancreatic cancer," Cohen said. "But clearly the treatments and side effects take their toll from time to time, especially for a 76-year-old woman. She's only the second female Justice and by all accounts a key part of the Court's inner dynamic."

After the retirement in January 2006 of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Ginsburg was the only woman on the nine-member court until Sonia Sotomayor joined in August.

Nominated by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg took her seat on the Supreme Court on Aug. 10, 1993. She had been a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since 1980.

Ginsburg is considered to be one of the reliably liberal votes on the closely divided court.


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