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Ginsburg back on bench after surgery

WASHINGTON – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to the Supreme Court bench Monday, a little over two weeks after her second major bout with cancer prompted questions about her health and the possibility of a quick court vacancy for President Barack Obama to fill.

A beaming Ginsburg walked into the marble courtroom with her eight male colleagues as Supreme Court Marshal Pamela Talkin began the traditional chant that announces the start of court: “Oyez. Oyez. Oyez …”

Wearing her typical court dress consisting of a black robe and white lace collar, Ginsburg showed no ill effects from her recent pancreatic cancer surgery, leaning forward in her chair and tossing out challenging questions for lawyers in her soft hesitant voice.

Ginsburg, 75, underwent surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York on Feb. 5 and returned to her home in Washington on Feb. 13.

Doctors gave her an encouraging prognosis after they removed a small malignant tumor from her pancreas and determined that the disease had not spread to her lymph nodes or other organs.

Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning of Kentucky apologized Monday for saying he believes Ginsburg could die within a year from pancreatic cancer.

Bunning, a Hall-of-Fame major league pitcher, said during a speech Saturday that Ginsburg has “bad cancer. The kind that you don’t get better from,” the Courier-Journal of Louisville reported. “Even though she was operated on, usually, nine months is the longest that anybody would live” with pancreatic cancer.

“I apologize if my comments offended Justice Ginsberg,” the two-term Kentucky junior senator said Monday in a statement, which misspelled Ginsburg’s name. “That certainly was not my intent.”

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