85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has suffered multiple health setbacks in recent months.

She fell and broke some ribs, and then had cancerous tumors removed from her lungs. Recovery from the lung surgery caused Ginsburg to miss three days of oral arguments this week, the first time she has missed an oral argument since joining the high court:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was absent from the bench for a third day Wednesday as she recovers from cancer surgery, according to a report.

Chief Justice John Roberts said the 85-year-old Ginsburg was unable to be present for arguments but would participate in court decisions via briefs and transcripts of oral arguments, according to The Hill.

Roberts did not say whether she would be back next week.

Ginsburg missed the arguments on Monday for the first time in her 25 years on the bench.

Liberal media is in a panic. CNBC found cancer surgeons (not Ginsburg’s surgeon) to assure everyone that all is well:

Ginsburg’s absence from the bench surprised court watchers, who have seen her quickly bounce back from past ailments, including two previous bouts with cancer.

But it did not surprise cancer surgeons, who say that based on what is known publicly, the 85-year-old’s recovery appears to be proceeding normally.

Top doctors with experience performing pulmonary lobectomies expect Ginsburg to be back on the bench in less than six weeks, with more than enough time to return for the court’s February sitting.

That’s all hopeful, but suggests Ginsburg will function at diminished capacity for a considerable period of time.

Less than full speed is not how she wants to operate, as Alana Goodman reports at The Washington Examiner:

Although Ginsburg said last summer that she hopes to serve until she is 90, she has been consistent about when it will be time for her to hang up the robe: “I said I will do this job as long as I can do it full steam,” she said on Dec. 17 at the New York City premier of “On the Basis of Sex,” a movie based on her early career. Five days later, Ginsburg underwent surgery to remove early-stage cancerous nodules and was hospitalized for several days.

Last February, Ginsburg used the same phrase during an event at the Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C. “As long as I can do the job full steam, I will be here,” she said.

“I will retire when it’s time,” Ginsburg told NPR’s Nina Totenberg in 2016. “And when is it time? When I can’t do the job full steam.” She used the same “full steam” phrase on at least two other occasions.

There are rumors of an imminent retirement or resignation, but those are just rumors as of this writing, and probably more trolling than real news. But Ginsburg’s health problems are real.

The White House is gearing up for the possibility of Ginsburg leaving the bench, Politico reports:

The White House is reaching out to political allies and conservative activist groups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible death or departure from the Supreme Court — an event that would trigger the second bitter confirmation battle of President Donald Trump’s tenure….

The White House “is taking the temperature on possible short-list candidates, reaching out to key stakeholders, and just making sure that people are informed on the process,” said a source familiar with those conversations, who spoke on background given the delicate nature of the subject. “They’re doing it very quietly, of course, because the idea is not to be opportunistic, but just to be prepared so we aren’t caught flat-footed.” …

The White House is urging outside allies to be prepared for another bruising confirmation battle should Ginsberg’s health take a sudden turn for the worse, according to four sources with knowledge of the overtures….

Politico points out the likely short list:

The White House counsel’s office and senior aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee, now chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), have begun drafting a shortlist of potential court nominees. It features judges the president has considered for previous vacancies along with some new names. Many of them are women, sources say.

They include Seventh Circuit judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was a leading contender for the last Supreme Court vacancy, created by Justice Anthony Kennedy; Sixth Circuit judges Joan Larsen, Amul Thapar, and Raymond Kethledge; Eleventh Circuit judge Britt Grant; and Third Circuit judge Thomas Hardiman; and Neomi Rao, Trump’s current nominee for Kavanaugh’s old seat on the D.C. Circuit Court.

Now that Republicans have 53 Senators, Collins and Murkowski can’t hold up a nominee. Which gives Trump more leeway.

I’m guessing the replacement for Ginsburg will be Amy Coney Barrett. She was a finalist last time, and Trump signaled her time would come, at least if this WaPo report from last July was accurate:

When Barrett sat down with Trump, she was friendly but reserved and did not particularly connect with the president. Nonetheless, he later told associates he was impressed by her and her large family, including one child with special needs and two adopted from Haiti, and that he hoped to save her as a future pick for the high court once she has more experience on the federal bench.

Regardless of who Trump picks, it’s going to be brutal.

UPDATE 1-11-2019

CBS News reports:

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be absent from oral arguments at the high court again next week continue to work from home next week as she recuperates from cancer surgery in December. She missed oral arguments for the first time in more than 25 years last week.

Ginsburg’s recovery is “on track,” according to the Supreme Court. She underwent surgery on Dec. 21 to remove two cancerous growths from her left lung. As was the case last week, she’ll participate in the “consideration and decision of the cases on the basis of the briefs and the transcripts of oral arguments,” Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said in an emailed statement. “Post-surgery evaluation indicates no evidence of remaining disease, and no further treatment is required,” Arberg said.