Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been battling a recurrence of cancer since February – so why are we just hearing about it now?
It’s been five months – shouldn’t the American people have known sooner?
With Ginsburg’s health a key issue in the 2020 election, some Supreme Court observers are accusing the Court of misleading the public, especially since Ginsburg had been declared “cancer-free” just a month before the recurrence of cancer was known.
To make matters worse, Ginsburg was hospitalized in May – but the statement that accompanied the hospitalization indicated that the cause was a routine gallstone. Were Ginsburg’s doctors being forthright?
Politico took up the subject in a lengthy article, noting that the issue hasn’t been confined to Ginsburg. Recently, the Court noted that Chief Justice Roberts had been hospitalized for a head injury in June – but the public didn’t know about it until weeks later.
Critics say the public is entitled to more information about the justices‘ medical condition. With the court sharply divided on many pivotal issues, an unexpected health crisis on the part of one justice has the potential to upend official Washington. But the fact the justices enjoy life tenure and have little in the way of oversight to monitor their competence also makes questions about their health more urgent than for other public officials.
“On the one hand, Ginsburg is to be commended for the statement [ on Friday,] but from what she said … it seems we should have had a statement several months ago,” said David Garrow, a renowned legal writer and historian of the civil rights movement.
Garrow contends that the evasion that she and other justices have engaged in surrounding their personal health undermines the public’s right to know about the performance of public officials who commonly remain in their posts into their 80s — well after most Americans their age have retired.
Garrow is right. The justices have a responsibility to be transparent about their health to the public because the unique life tenure they enjoy makes their health a matter of public concern.
That shouldn’t be controverisial. But because it’s 2020, it is.