Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, stands in her chambers following an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Expected to Return to Supreme Court Bench Tuesday

(Bloomberg) -- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is expected to sit for a U.S. Supreme Court argument Tuesday for the first time since she underwent surgery in December to remove cancerous masses from one of her lungs.

Ginsburg’s presence will be a relief to liberals worried about any prospect that the 85-year-old justice might have to step down and give President Donald Trump a third Supreme Court vacancy to fill.

Ginsburg has been working from home while recovering from the operation. She missed two weeks of arguments in January -- a first for her -- but is taking part in those cases by using the briefs and transcripts, court officials have said. She attended a private conference at the court with her fellow justices on Friday, the same day that the court agreed to decide whether the Trump administration can ask about citizenship on the 2020 census.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Expected to Return to Supreme Court Bench Tuesday

The court said in January that Ginsburg’s recovery was on track and there was no evidence of remaining disease. She has already survived bouts with colon and pancreatic cancer.

The court has an abbreviated schedule this week, with only two 60-minute arguments. In the Tuesday case, the issue is whether federal agencies, such as the U.S. Postal Service, can use an administrative system set up by Congress in 2011 to challenge patents held by private parties.

Doctors discovered the growths on Ginsburg’s lung through tests performed after she fell and broke three ribs. Ginsburg was discharged from the hospital Dec. 25.

Ginsburg, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993, has said on several occasions that she intends to stay in the job as long as she can do it “full steam.”

The last time a member of the Supreme Court missed any extensive time on the bench was the 2004-05 term, when Chief Justice William Rehnquist missed 44 arguments while battling thyroid cancer. Rehnquist died in September 2005 and was replaced by John Roberts.

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