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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

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito (R) will not seek third terms in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

3 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.