Chief Justice Roberts Suffers Seizure
Tuesday, July 31, 2007; 2:24 AM
WASHINGTON -- Chief Justice John Roberts suffered a seizure at his summer home in Maine on Monday, causing a fall that resulted in minor scrapes, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.
He will remain in a hospital in Maine overnight.
"It's my understanding he's fully recovered, said Christopher Burke, a spokesman for Penobscot Bay Medical Center, where Roberts was taken.
Roberts, 52, was taken by ambulance to the medical center, where he underwent a "thorough neurological evaluation, which revealed no cause for concern," Arberg said in a statement.
Roberts had a similar episode in 1993, she said.
Doctors called Monday's incident "a benign idiopathic seizure," Arberg said. The White House described the January 1993 episode as an "isolated, idiosyncratic seizure." Both descriptions indicate that doctors could not determine the seizure's cause or link it to another medical condition. For example, doctors would have quickly ruled out simple explanations such as dehydration or low blood sugar.
Roberts, who was named to the court in 2005, has led the Supreme Court to a more conservative stance, along with Justice Samuel Alito, who won confirmation in early 2006. Conservative causes have won twice as often as they lost on the Roberts-led court. The 2006-07 term brought limits on abortion rights, restrictions on school integration programs and greater freedom for political advertising.
Medical opinions differed on just what Roberts' seizures mean.
Someone who has had more than one seizure without any other cause is determined to have epilepsy, said Dr. Marc Schlosberg, a neurologist at Washington Hospital Center, who is not involved in the Roberts' case.
Whether Roberts will need anti-seizure medications to prevent another is something he and his doctor will have to decide. But after two seizures, the likelihood of another at some point is greater than 60 percent. "When it's going to occur, obviously nobody knows," Schlosberg said.
The National Institutes of Health's Web site says that "only when a person has had two or more seizures is a person considered to have epilepsy."
Epilepsy is merely a term for a seizure disorder, but it is a loaded term because it makes people think of lots of seizures, cautioned Dr. Edward Mkrdichian, a neurosurgeon at the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch.