US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was hospitalized after feeling faint and fatigued as she battles pancreatic cancer.
The 76-year-old justice, who underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer in early February, was taken to the Washington Hospital Center “as a precaution” for evaluation at 7:45 pm (2345 GMT) after “feeling ill in her chambers earlier in the day,” the court said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear whether she would spend the night at the hospital, a court spokesperson told AFP.
One of five justices who are now older than 70, Ginsburg “felt faint, developed light headedness and fatigue” about one hour after being administered an iron sucrose infusion by a court physician to treat an iron deficiency anemia, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.
The justice, Arberg added, had a “slightly low” blood pressure, which can take place after treatment, but was found to be in “stable health.”
After her surgery for pancreatic cancer, Ginsburg returned to the bench where she is one of two women serving on the nation’s highest court — along with newly-sworn in Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
Ginsburg, who also underwent surgery for colorectal cancer in 1999, is unlikely to let the health setbacks prevent her from fulfilling her duties when the court reconvenes for its new term set to begin on October 5.
She has repeatedly said she has no intention of retiring soon and plans to stay on the court for many more years ahead.
Supreme Court justices are appointed for life or until they resign, and any vacancy would give President Barack Obama the opportunity to make his second nomination to the key bench after Sotomayor, the first Hispanic to serve on the high court.
The most liberal judge on the panel, John Paul Stevens, is also the oldest at 89. He has been expected to resign soon, and observers are gearing up for appointments of politically progressive judges to the bench.
Arberg stressed that a comprehensive health assessment in July found that Ginsburg was in “completely normal health” except for a low red blood cell count due to an iron deficiency.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest forms of the disease, with only one in 10 patients surviving for five years after diagnosis. The cancer can often be inoperable, because it spreads rapidly to other organs.
Originally seen as a centrist among the Supreme Court justices, Ginsburg has increasingly been viewed as a steady progressive voice as the court has moved to the right.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, she was named to the Supreme Court in 1993 by president Bill Clinton, and has been a supporter of abortion rights, death penalty restrictions and affirmative action.
Sotomayor is the third woman to serve on the high court in its 220-year history — Sandra Day O’Connor retired in 2006 — and two African-Americans have succeeded one another in the same seat.
Ginsburg began her judicial career in 1980 after being appointed by president Jimmy Carter to sit on the District of Columbia Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.
As top litigator on women’s rights for the American Civil Liberties Union, a leading US rights group, Ginsburg won five decisive victories in the 1970s before the Supreme Court she would eventually join.