Monday, July 30, 2007

Chief Justice Roberts Is Hospitalized After Seizure

The NYTimes reports:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was hospitalized on today after suffering a seizure at his summer home in Maine, the Supreme Court announced.

The episode, described as a “benign idiopathic seizure,” was similar to one he suffered 14 years ago, according to the court’s press release. Idiopathic means that the cause of the seizure remains unknown.

He had no lasting effects from the earlier incident and was “fully recovered” from the seizure he suffered about 2 p.m. today, the court said, adding that the chief justice had undergone “a thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern.”

He was to remain overnight “as a precaution” at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport.

The seizure caused a fall, in which he “experienced minor scrapes,” the court said.

Christopher Burke, a spokesman for Penobscot Bay Medical Center, told The Associated Press, “It’s my understanding he’s fully recovered.”

In an interview this evening, Dr. David J. Langer, the director of cerebrovascular neurosurgery at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt, Beth Israel and Long Island College Hospital, said that medical care after such a seizure should include “a good M.R.I., CAT scan and EEG. ” All these tests are available at the Penobscot Bay Medical Center, according to the hospital’s Web site.

“But the chances they’ll find anything and be able to do anything about it are pretty low,” said Dr. Langer, who is also an assistant professor at Albert Einstein Medical College.

“In the majority of seizures you see no anatomical cause,” he said. A cause could be a tumor, bleeding in the brain, a clogged blood vessel or an injury.

Dr. Langer said it could be difficult for doctors to decide whether the chief justice, who, at 52 is the youngest member of the court,, should start taking medication, which Dr. Langer said “have significant side effects.” Chief Justice Roberts appears otherwise healthy and is not known to have any chronic medical problems.

The chief justice’s home, which he bought last year, is on Hupper Island, off Port Clyde. The 400-acre island has only about two dozen houses, offering privacy to his family, which includes two young children. He was taken by boat to the mainland and from there by ambulance to the hospital.

Chief Justice Roberts was “conscious and alert” when he was put in the ambulance, said Tim Polky, the fire chief in the town of St. George, which includes Port Clyde.

He has spent an active month since the court’s summer recess began at the end of June, with a two-week trip to Europe that included teaching at a seminar in Austria and meeting in Paris with European judges in the company of several of his Supreme Court colleagues. Before leaving for Maine a few days ago, he was working in his chambers at the court.

A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said President Bush had been told of the chief justice’s hospitalization during a meeting earlier in the day.