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Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will miss this week's oral arguments — a reminder of just how high the stakes are in America's quietest but most functional branch of government.

What's happening: Ginsburg is working from home as she recovers from a late-December surgery to remove two malignant nodules from her left lung. Post-surgical evaluations show she is free of cancer, the court said. The 85-year-old justice is still participating in cases, but she will not make it to the court for arguments or the justices' private conferences. She also missed last week's arguments.

Why it matters: Ginsburg is the court's oldest justice and one of just four liberal-leaning justices on a court that is already pulling harder toward the right.

The court has largely been able to avoid politically charged cases during its current term, and that may continue.

  • The court has been asked to hear three high-profile issues: a lawsuit over President Trump's ability to unilaterally end DACA; his ban on transgender people serving in the military; and workplace protections for LGBTQ workers.
  • So far the court has taken no action on any of those cases.
  • If the court wants to hear any of them during its current term, this week is likely the last chance to say so. Its docket for the term appears to be full or nearly full.
  • Otherwise, the justices could decline to hear those cases altogether, or push them into its next term, which doesn’t start until October — which would of course also push the eventual rulings closer to the 2020 election.

Go deeper ... Ginsburg: "I have about at least 5 more years" on the Supreme Court

Go deeper

Dead malls get new life

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.

White House now says Biden will move to increase refugee cap by May 15

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The White House on Friday afternoon said President Biden plans to lift the Trump-era refugee cap by May 15.

Driving the news: The announcement follows stinging criticism from several Democrats and rights groups, who said Biden was walking back on his pledge to raise the limit. Earlier Friday, Biden signed a directive to speed up the processing of refugees, but kept the Trump administration's historically low cap of 15,000 refugees for this year.