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Ginsburg Briefly Hospitalized, Released Thurs.

JESSE J. HOLLAND | The Associated Press via YellowBrix

October 15, 2009

WASHINGTON – 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.

Ginsburg 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.

This is the second time Ginsburg has been hospitalized in the last month. She was taken to Washington Hospital Center on Sept. 24 after falling ill at her Supreme Court office. 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 surgery for pancreatic cancer 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.

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.

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