Coronavirus fuels historic legal battle over voting as 2020 U.S. election looms

By Joseph Ax

(Reuters) – The Nov. 3 contest between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden has generated an unprecedented wave of election-related litigation, as both sides seek to shape the rules governing how votes are tallied in key states.

With 40 days left, the court clashes have spread to every competitive state amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has fueled pitched battles over seemingly mundane issues such as witness signatures, U.S. mail postmarks and the use of drop boxes for ballots.

Trump’s unfounded attacks on voting by mail and delivery delays amid cost-cutting measures at the U.S. Postal Service have only intensified the urgency of the litigation.

A Reuters analysis of state and federal court records found more than 200 election-related cases pending as of Tuesday. Overall, at least 250 election lawsuits spurred by the coronavirus have been filed, according to Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor who has been tracking the litigation.

The pandemic has turned what were once minor hurdles, such as witness signature requirements, into potentially major obstacles, while exacerbating existing concerns.

“In the past, long lines would be disenfranchising or deterring, but in this case they can be deadly,” said Myrna Perez, who directs the voting rights and elections program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

Democrats generally have sought to ease restrictions on mail ballots, which are surging as voters want to avoid the risk of visiting in-person polling sites.

“The Biden campaign has assembled the biggest voter protection program in history to ensure our election runs smoothly and to combat any attempt by Donald Trump to interfere in the democratic process,” Mike Gwin, a Biden spokesman, said.

Republicans say they are trying to prevent illegal voting, although experts say voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

“Democrats are working to shred election integrity measures one state at a time, and there’s no question they’ll continue their shenanigans from now to November and beyond,” said Matthew Morgan, general counsel for the Trump campaign.

A flurry of court decisions this month have delivered several Democratic wins, although many remain subject to appeal. In the key states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina, officials will count ballots that arrive after Nov. 3, as long as they were sent by Election Day.

Several pending cases, including in competitive Texas, Pennsylvania and Michigan, could have a major impact on those states’ elections.

In Pennsylvania, for instance, Republicans will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to step in after the state’s highest court rejected their bid to limit drop boxes and disqualify late-arriving ballots. The Trump campaign is pursuing a separate federal lawsuit over some of the same issues.

In Texas, state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, has sued officials in Harris County to stop them from sending absentee ballot applications to all voters. The county, which includes Houston, is the state’s most populous, with nearly 5 million residents.

Republicans prevailed in several earlier cases.

In Florida, a federal appeals court blocked hundreds of thousands of ex-felons from voting in November. In Texas, where only those 65 years and older can vote by mail without having to provide a valid reason such as disability, a series of court rulings have stymied Democratic efforts to extend that right to all residents.

SUPREME COURT BATTLE TO COME?

The influx of cases may also be a preview of what is to come after Nov. 3, when new fights could arise over which ballots should be counted.

Both campaigns have assembled armies of lawyers in preparation.

The Biden campaign has lined up hundreds of attorneys and has brought in top lawyers like former U.S. Solicitors General Donald Verrilli and Walter Dellinger and former Attorney General Eric Holder as advisers.

Marc Elias, the Democratic attorney who has coordinated many election lawsuits this year on behalf of left-leaning groups, is heading a team focused on state-by-state voter protection.

Trump’s campaign, for its part, has filed multiple challenges to states like Nevada and New Jersey that plan to mail a ballot to every voter.

Some Democrats are concerned that if Republicans succeed in getting a successor to the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court before the election, it will ensure Trump wins any dispute that ends up at the high court.

The Supreme Court’s decision in 2000 to stop the Florida recount handed the presidency to Republican George W. Bush, the only time the high court has decided the outcome of a U.S. presidential election.

Trump has seemingly laid the groundwork for a post-election fight, repeatedly asserting without evidence that voting by mail will yield a “rigged” result.

On Wednesday, the president said explicitly that he wanted to have Ginsburg’s successor in place because he expects the election to end up at the Supreme Court.

Levitt, the law professor tracking the cases, said he still trusted that judges would reject challenges not backed by evidence.

“Filing a case costs a few hundred dollars and a lawyer, and can often be useful for messaging,” he said. “But courts of law demand evidence that the court of public opinion doesn’t.”

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Additional reporting by Jan Wolfe and Disha Raychaudhuri; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Peter Cooney)

U.S. to put murderer to death as federal executions spree continues

By Jonathan Allen

(Reuters) – The U.S. government plans to execute William LeCroy, a convicted rapist and murderer, on Tuesday, the sixth in a spate of federal executions after a long hiatus in capital punishment.

The Department of Justice says it will kill LeCroy using lethal injections of pentobarbital, a barbiturate, at its execution chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Under President Donald Trump, who took office in early 2017 and has long been an outspoken advocate for capital punishment, the federal government has executed more men than all of Trump’s predecessors combined going back to 1963.

Another execution is planned for Thursday, when Christopher Vialva, a convicted murderer, is set to become the first Black man to face the federal death penalty under Trump.

Trump’s administration ended an informal 17-year-hiatus in carrying out the death sentence after announcing last year it would use a new one-drug lethal-injection protocol, replacing the three-drug protocol used in the last federal execution in 2003.

The new protocol revived long-running legal challenges to lethal injections. While a U.S. District Court judge, Tanya Chutkan, in Washington, D.C., last month sided with condemned men who sued the government, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the judge had made “insufficient findings and conclusions” in blocking the execution of Keith Nelson over an issue related to federal safety law on prescription drugs.

Chutkan has previously issued multiple orders halting planned executions while litigation continued, but which were soon overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, whose conservative majority said that legal challenges to pentobarbital injections, which are also used by several state governments to execute prisoners, were unlikely to prevail.

On Sunday, Chutkan declined to halt this week’s executions, saying the government’s violation of prescription laws did not itself amount to “irreparable harm.” She also ruled that the question of whether a condemned man would still be conscious after injection of the caustic drug and suffer agony as his lungs filled with bloody fluid prior to death was “one upon which reasonable minds could differ.”

LeCroy was convicted and sentenced to death in Georgia in 2004 for the carjacking, rape and murder of Joann Tiesler, a 30-year-old nurse, after breaking into her home. He was caught two days later in Tiesler’s vehicle at the U.S.-Canadian border with notes scribbled on the back of a torn map, according to prosecutors.

“Please, please, please forgive me Joanne,” read one note by LeCroy, who misspelled the victim’s name. “You were an angel and I killed you. Now I have to live with that and I can never go home. I am a vagabond and doomed to hell.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Justice Ginsburg to be honored at U.S. Supreme Court, Capitol

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The body of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87, will lie in repose outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday so members of the public can pay their respects before she lies in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday.

There has been an outpouring of public mourning for the iconic liberal justice, who became a pop culture icon in recent years, even as President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans who control the Senate seek to replace her with a conservative justice before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Crowds have gathered outside the court building, leaving flowers and other items in tribute, ever since her death on Friday from complications of pancreatic cancer.

A private ceremony will take place at the court on Wednesday morning, attended by Ginsburg’s family, friends and other Supreme Court justices, a court statement said on Monday. Some of Ginsburg’s former law clerks will serve as pallbearers and will be lined up on the court’s steps when the casket arrives.

Ginsburg’s casket will be placed outside, under the court’s portico, in a break from tradition prompted by coronavirus-related health concerns. Usually the casket of a dead justice is placed in the court’s Great Hall, where the public can view it.

On Friday, the casket will be placed in the National Statuary Hall in the Capitol, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a separate statement. A private ceremony will be held, Pelosi added.

Ginsburg will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in a private ceremony next week, the court statement said.

Trump said on Monday he will announce his pick to replace Ginsburg on the high court by the end of the week. If the Senate confirms his nominee, it would leave the court with a solid 6-3 conservative majority ahead of his Nov. 3 re-election bid.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Chris Reese and Will Dunham)

Trump says he will name Supreme Court pick by Saturday, urges quick vote

By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Monday he will announce his U.S. Supreme Court pick by the end of the week, moving quickly to fill the seat of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg and cement a 6-3 conservative majority ahead of his Nov. 3 re-election bid.

The Republican president said he is looking “very seriously” at five candidates and would put forward his nominee on Friday or Saturday after funeral services for Ginsburg, who died of complications from pancreatic cancer on Friday at age 87.

Trump said the Republican-controlled Senate should hold a vote ahead of the election.

“The final vote should be taken frankly before the election. We have plenty of time for that,” Trump said on Fox News.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has prioritized confirming Trump’s judicial appointments, has said he would usher through a vote. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, but two Republican senators – Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski – over the weekend said the chamber should not move forward with a Trump nominee before the election.

McConnell has time, as a new Congress will not be sworn in until Jan. 3. Democrats are hoping to win control of the Senate in the election.

Ginsburg’s death has upended the campaign season, giving Trump and his party an opportunity to strengthen its grip on a court whose decisions influence many spheres of American life including abortion, healthcare, gun rights, voting access, presidential powers and the death penalty.

Trump already has named two conservative justices to the high court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump has mentioned possible candidates in Amy Coney Barrett of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Barbara Lagoa of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Trump named both of them to their current jobs. Trump on Fox also was asked about Judge Allison Rushing, who Trump appointed to the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year.

“I’m looking at five, probably four, but I’m looking at five very seriously. I’m going to make a decision on either Friday or Saturday,” Trump said.

‘A TERRIFIC WOMAN’

Asked about Lagoa, a conservative Cuban-American jurist from Florida, Trump said, “She’s Hispanic. She’s a terrific woman from everything I know. I don’t know her. Florida. We love Florida.” Florida is an election battleground state pivotal to Trump’s chances against Biden.

The court vacancy also has given Trump and his fellow Republicans a chance to steer the national discussion away from the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed almost 200,000 Americans and thrown millions of people out of work.

Democrats accused McConnell of hypocrisy for being eager to usher a Trump nominee to a confirmation vote. In 2016, he refused to even consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the court left by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, saying it would be inappropriate to do so during an election year.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington and Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Heavey and Jan Wolfe, Writing by Andy Sullivan; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)

Potential Trump Supreme Court pick Barrett known for conservative religious views

By Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In considering Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Supreme Court, President Donald Trump has turned to a federal appellate judge known for conservative religious views who liberals worry could become instrumental in rolling back abortion rights.

Barrett, if nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate for a lifetime post on the Supreme Court, would replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at age 87 on Friday. Barrett, 48, would give conservatives a 6-3 majority.

A devout Roman Catholic, Barrett is a favorite among religious conservatives. Trump in 2017 appointed Barrett to the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the regional appeals courts that are one step below the Supreme Court. On the 7th Circuit, she has voted in favor of one of Trump’s hardline immigration policies and shown support for expansive gun rights.

During her 2017 confirmation hearing for her current post, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein told Barrett, “The dogma lives loudly within you.” Barrett told the senators that her religious faith would not affect her decisions as a judge.

Abortion rights groups have expressed concern that on the Supreme Court she could help overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Although she has not yet ruled directly on abortion as a judge, Barrett on the 7th Circuit twice signaled opposition to rulings that struck down abortion-related restrictions, voting to have those decisions reconsidered.

In 2018, Barrett was among the 7th Circuit judges who sought reconsideration of a decision that invalidated a Republican-backed Indiana law requiring that fetal remains be buried or cremated after an abortion. The Supreme Court in 2019 reinstated the law.

In 2019, Barrett also voted for rehearing of a three-judge panel’s ruling that upheld a challenge to another Republican-backed Indiana abortion law before it went into effect. The measure would require that parents be notified when a girl under 18 is seeking an abortion even in situations in which she has asked a court to provide consent instead of her parents, as was allowed under existing law. The Supreme Court in July tossed out the ruling and ordered the matter to be reconsidered.

In June, Barrett dissented when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of a challenge to Trump’s policy to deny legal permanent residency to certain immigrants deemed likely to require government assistance in the future. In January, the Supreme Court, powered by its conservative majority, allowed the policy to take effect.

Barrett indicated support for gun rights in a 2019 dissent when she objected to the court ruling that a nonviolent felon could be permanently prohibited from possessing a firearm.

“Founding-era legislatures did not strip felons of the right to bear arms simply because of their status as felons,” Barrett wrote.

CONSERVATIVE RECORD

Barrett, born in New Orleans, received her law degree from Notre Dame Law School, a Catholic institution in Indiana.

Barrett’s extensive prior writings about religion, the role of judges and how courts should treat important legal precedents made her a favorite among social conservatives and conservative Christian leaders even before she became a judge.

After serving as a Supreme Court clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, a stalwart conservative who died in 2016, and working at a couple of law firms, Barrett returned to Notre Dame as a professor until joining the bench.

Through her past writings, some critics have suggested she would be guided by her religious beliefs rather than the law. In a 1998 law journal article she and another author said that Catholic judges who are faithful to their church’s teachings are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty and should recuse themselves in certain cases.

Abortion rights groups, worried about preserving the 1973 ruling that a woman has a constitutional right to have an abortion, point to a 2003 law journal article in which Barrett argued that courts could be more flexible in overturning prior “errors” in precedent.

Barrett has also spoken publicly about her conviction that life begins at conception, according to a 2013 article in Notre Dame Magazine.

She is married to Jesse Barrett, a lawyer in private practice and a former federal prosecutor in Indiana. They have seven children, two of whom were adopted from Haiti.

Barrett and her family have been members of a Christian religious group called People of Praise, according to other members.

Craig Lent, the group’s overall coordinator, said in 2018 that the organization, which is officially ecumenical but whose membership is mostly Catholic, centers on close Christian bonds and looking out for one another. They also share a preference for charismatic worship, which can involve speaking in tongues.

Certain leadership positions are reserved for men. And while married men receive spiritual and other advice from other male group members, married women depend on their husbands for the same advice, Lent said.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung and Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Téa Kvetenadze; Editing by Will Dunham)

Appeals court finds Florida can require felons to pay fines before right to vote is restored

By Jarrett Renshaw

(Reuters) – A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that Florida can require felons to pay all fines, restitution and legal fees they face before they can regain their right to vote, reversing a lower court ruling that held the measure unconstitutional.

The ruling, by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, could influence the election outcome in November.

Florida is considered a must-win in President Donald’s Trump’s bid for re-election and disenfranchised felons account for a significant voting bloc in a state with a history of tight elections.

The dispute, which could ultimately head to U.S. Supreme Court, centers on whether the law is a way around a voter-approved 2018 measure that aimed to end the state’s lifetime prohibition on voting by ex-felons.

The Republican-controlled Florida legislature passed the law the following year, requiring all former felons to pay off outstanding court debts and legal fees to be eligible to vote.

Voting and civil rights groups sued the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, and state election officials over that requirement.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle in May struck down most of the law as unconstitutional, describing it as a “pay to vote” scheme.

The appeals court, dominated by judges appointed by Trump, delayed the decision while it considered on appeal.

On Friday, a majority of the 11-judge panel found the defendants in the case failed to prove the measure violated the constitution, noting the country has a long history of placing restrictions on voting.

The decision was met with frustration by voting rights groups.

“Florida’s voters spoke loud and clear when nearly two-thirds of them supported rights restoration at the ballot box in 2018,” said Paul Smith, vice president at Campaign Legal Center. “Nobody should ever be denied their constitutional rights because they can’t afford to pay fines and fees.”

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Scott Malone and Steve Orlofsky)

U.S. to ask top court to restore Boston Marathon bomber Tsarnaev’s death sentence

By Nate Raymond

BOSTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it will ask the nation’s top court to reinstate Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s death sentence for helping carry out the 2013 attack that killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in Boston said that after considering victims’ views, the department had decided to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appellate court’s July 31 decision to order a new death penalty phase trial for Tsarnaev.

“Our hope is that this will result in reinstatement of the original sentence and avoid a retrial of the death penalty phase,” Lelling said in a statement.

His statement came after U.S. Attorney General William Barr told the Associated Press the department will “do whatever’s necessary” and continue to pursue the death penalty, a position consistent with President Donald Trump’s views.

Victims have been divided over seeking the death penalty, and David Patton, Tsarnaev’s lawyer, had argued prosecutors should allow “closure” by permitting a life prison sentence.

In its ruling, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that a trial judge “fell short” in conducting the jury selection process and screening jurors for potential bias following pretrial publicity.

Tsarnaev, 27, and his older brother, Tamerlan, sparked five days of panic in Boston on April 15, 2013, when they detonated two homemade pressure cooker bombs at the marathon’s finish line and then tried to flee the city.

In the days that followed, they also killed a police officer. Tsarnaev’s brother died after a gunfight with police.

A federal jury in 2015 found Tsarnaev guilty of all 30 counts he faced and later determined he deserved execution for a bomb he planted that killed 8-year-old Martin Richard and 23-year-old Chinese exchange student Lingzi Lu. Restaurant manager Krystle Campbell, 29, was also killed.

(Reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by Cynthia Osterman, Peter Cooney and Richard Pullin)

Trump says federal government should again seek death penalty for Boston bomber Tsarnaev

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said Sunday that the federal government should again seek the death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

In a tweet, Trump said the federal government must challenge a Friday appeals court decision overturning the death penalty for the 2013 attack.

“Rarely has anybody deserved the death penalty more than the Boston Bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev,” tweeted Trump. “The Federal Government must again seek the Death Penalty in a do-over of that chapter of the original trial.”

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld much of Tsarnaev’s conviction Friday but ordered a new trial over what sentence Tsarnaev should receive for the death penalty-eligible crimes he was convicted of.

The federal government is reviewing the ruling. Prosecutors could ask the full appeals court to reconsider or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, set off a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the world-renowned race in 2013, tearing through the packed crowd, killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.

Tsarnaev admitted to his crimes after his conviction in 2015, and apologized to the victims.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; editing by Diane Craft)

Trump orders voting districts to exclude people in U.S. illegally

By Alexandra Alper and Nick Brown

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Tuesday that would prevent migrants who are in the United States illegally from being counted when U.S. congressional voting districts are redrawn in the next round of redistricting.

U.S. Census experts and lawyers say the action is legally dubious. In theory, it would benefit Trump’s Republican Party by eliminating the largely non-white population of migrants in the U.S. illegally, creating voting districts that skew more Caucasian.

“Including these illegal aliens in the population of the State for the purpose of apportionment could result in the allocation of two or three more congressional seats than would otherwise be allocated,” the memo said.

Responses from Democrats and immigration advocates were swift and condemnatory.

Dale Ho, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, vowed litigation.

“We’ll see (Trump) in court, and win,” he said in a statement.

Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, derided what he viewed as an “unconstitutional order that has no purpose other than to silence and dis-empower Latino voices and communities of color.”

Proponents of citizens-only voting districts argue each vote should carry the same weight. If one district has far fewer eligible voters than another, they say, each vote there has more influence on election outcomes.

But the move carries major legal questions.

While the U.S. Supreme Court has left the door open for citizen-based voting maps for state legislatures, experts see it as a long-shot at the federal level, because the U.S. Constitution explicitly says that congressional districts must be based on “the whole number of persons” in each district.

In the memo, Trump said the word “persons” “has never been understood to include … every individual physically present within a state’s boundaries.”

Census experts say that is wrong: multiple federal laws have reinforced that apportionment must include everyone, and U.S. Supreme Court precedent has endorsed that view, said Joshua Geltzer, a constitutional law expert and professor at Georgetown Law.

“All of this makes Trump’s position outrageous,” Geltzer said.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper in Washington and Nick Brown in New York; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan in Washington, Mica Rosenberg in New York and Mimi Dwyer and Kristina Cooke in Los Angeles; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)

U.S. Supreme Court’s Ginsburg undergoing treatment for cancer recurrence

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at 87 the U.S. Supreme Court’s oldest member, said on Friday she is receiving chemotherapy treatment for a recurrence of cancer – the latest in a series of health issues – but indicated no intention to retire.

In a statement released by the court, Ginsburg said that a periodic scan in February, followed by a biopsy, revealed lesions on her liver. She said she is tolerating the chemotherapy treatment well and that it is yielding positive results. She said she began her chemotherapy on May 19.

“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that,” Ginsburg said.

The health of Ginsburg, the court’s senior liberal member, is closely watched because a Supreme Court vacancy could give Republican President Donald Trump the opportunity to appoint a third justice to the nine-member court and move it further to the right. The court currently has a 5-4 conservative majority including two justices appointed by Trump – Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

On Wednesday, Ginsburg was released from a hospital in Baltimore after treatment for a possible infection. She underwent a procedure at Johns Hopkins Hospital to clean a bile duct stent that was inserted last August. Ginsburg said recent hospitalizations to remove gall stones and treat an infection were unrelated to this cancer recurrence.

Ginsburg experienced a bout with lung cancer in 2018 and pancreatic cancer in 2019. She had previously been treated for pancreatic cancer in 2009 and colon cancer in 1999. In May, she underwent non-surgical treatment for a gallstone that had caused an infection.

In this latest cancer fight, Ginsburg said, immunotherapy proved unsuccessful, but with chemotherapy her most recent scan on July 7 indicated “significant reduction of the liver lesions” and no new disease.

“Satisfied that my treatment course is now clear, I am providing this information,” Ginsburg added.

Ginsburg said she has been able to keep up with her work at the court, including writing opinions in cases, throughout the treatment course. “I will continue bi-weekly chemotherapy to keep my cancer at bay, and am able to maintain an active daily routine,” she added.

Ginsburg is the second-longest serving among the current nine justices behind Clarence Thomas, having been appointed to a lifetime post on the court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. She was the second woman ever named to the court, after Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed 12 years earlier.

A trail-blazing lawyer who won gender equality cases at the Supreme Court in the 1970’s, as a justice she has provided key votes in landmark rulings securing equal rights for women, expanding gay rights and safeguarding abortion rights.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)