July 31, 2007 in Nation/World

Chief justice suffers seizure

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review
 

WASHINGTON – Chief Justice John Roberts suffered a seizure at his summer home in Maine on Monday, causing a fall that resulted in minor scrapes, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

He will remain in a hospital in Maine overnight.

“It’s my understanding he’s fully recovered, said Christopher Burke, a spokesman for Penobscot Bay Medical Center, where Roberts was taken.

Roberts, 52, was taken by ambulance to the medical center, where he underwent a “thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern,” Arberg said. Roberts had a similar episode in 1993, she said.

Doctors called Monday’s incident “a benign idiopathic seizure,” Arberg said. The White House described the January 1993 episode as an “isolated, idiosyncratic seizure.”

A benign seizure means that doctors performed an MRI and other tests to conclude there was no tumor, stroke or other explanation.

In addition, doctors would have quickly ruled out simple explanations such as dehydration or low blood sugar.

By definition, someone who has had more than one seizure without any other cause is determined to have epilepsy, said Dr. Marc Schlosberg, a neurologist at Washington Hospital Center, who is not involved in the Roberts case.

Whether Roberts will need anti-seizure medications to prevent another is something he and his doctor will have to decide.

But after two seizures, the likelihood of another at some point is greater than 60 percent.

The incident occurred around 2 p.m. EDT on a dock near the home in Port Clyde on Maine’s Hupper Island. Port Clyde, which is part of the town of St. George, is about 90 miles by car northeast of Portland.

Named to the court by President Bush in 2005, Roberts is the youngest justice on a court in which the senior member, John Paul Stevens, is 87.

Roberts is the father of two young children.

In 2001, Roberts described his health as “excellent,” according to Senate Judiciary Committee records.


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