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Ginsburg Back on Supreme Court

October 4, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Seventeen days after undergoing surgery for colon cancer, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on the bench today as the nation’s highest court opened its 1999-2000 term.

Ginsburg, looking slightly thinner and paler than usual, smiled broadly as she took her place at the end of the bench. Before taking her seat, she smiled at her husband, Martin, and two grown children, James and Jane, who were in the courtroom.

As is court custom, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist made no mention of Ginsburg’s recent illness as he declared the new term open.

Part of Ginsburg’s colon was removed during her surgery on Sept. 17, but last week court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said doctors found that the cancer had not spread to any lymph nodes.

Ginsburg, 66, fell ill this summer while teaching in Crete, and initially was treated for acute diverticulitis, a gastric disorder. Arberg said last week that the severe abdominal inflammation for which Ginsburg was first treated was unrelated to the colon cancer, but it led doctors to discover the tumor.

The justice went home from Washington Hospital Center last Tuesday. While she was in the hospital, she participated in the court’s consideration of a number of cases granted review in advance of today’s term opening.

Also sitting in the courtroom’s guest section today was retired Justice Byron R. White, the only living retired justice.