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Ginsburg gets heart stent to clear artery clog

Created: 11/26/2014 2:21 PM
By: By SAM HANANEL

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a heart stent implanted Wednesday to clear a blocked coronary artery but was expected to be back at work for the start of next week, court officials said.

The 81-year-old justice had the procedure at MedStar Washington Hospital Center after the blockage to her right coronary artery was discovered, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

Arberg said Ginsburg had some discomfort Tuesday night during routine exercise at the court with her personal trainer and was taken to the hospital by ambulance at about 10 p.m. The justice is expected to leave the hospital within the next 48 hours.

"She expects to be on the bench on Monday" when the court next hears oral arguments, Arberg said.

Ginsburg has for years been fending off questions about whether she should leave the court, brought on in part by her health. She had colon cancer in 1999, pancreatic cancer in 2009 and has suffered broken ribs. Still, she has not missed any time on the job.

She has served on the court since President Bill Clinton appointed her in 1993.

Earlier this year, liberal law professors Randall Kennedy of Harvard Law School and Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at the University of California at Irvine, called on Ginsburg to retire so that she could ensure that a Democratic president can choose a successor who shares her views and values.

But Ginsburg has repeatedly rebuffed suggestions that it's time for her to step down. She has continued to make dozens of public appearances and speeches around the country.

"So who do you think could be nominated now that would get through the Senate that you would rather see on the court than me?" she told The Associated Press in an interview in August.

"Right now, I don't see any sign that I'm less able to do the job," she said at the time.

That was before the midterm elections that saw Republicans gain control of the Senate.

Stents are mesh scaffoldings inserted into about half a million people in the U.S. each year to prop open arteries clogged by years of cholesterol buildup. Doctors guide a narrow tube through a blood vessel in the groin or an arm, inflate a tiny balloon to flatten the blockage, and then push the stent into place.

In 2005, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy had a stent inserted to keep an artery open after experiencing mild chest pain. Kennedy got a revised stent a year later.

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Associated Press writer Lauran Neergaard contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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