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(Alison King, NECN) - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is recovering from surgery for pancreatic cancer. This is the second time she has had cancer surgery, the first for colon cancer in 1999. 75-year old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had recently told her former law clerks that she planned to serve on the court into her eighties. But that was before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg is at New York’s Sloane Kettering Cancer Center where she's had surgery to remove a 1-centimeter tumor in her pancreas. The court announced that the cancer, discovered during a routine exam last month, is apparently in the early stages. But pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly cancers, prompting many to wonder what her departure would mean for the future of the court. Kent Greenfield: “She's one of the more beloved members of the court, everybody across the ideological spectrum respects her and enjoys her company, so I think it would be a sad day for the court and the justices personally.” Boston College law professor Kent Greenfield says if Ginsburg were to leave, it probably would not alter the current balance of the court, since President Obama would likely nominate someone with ideologically similar views. Ken Greenfield: Justice Ginsberg is a reliable, liberal vote. She's very careful, she has said that she likes to make decisions and have the court make decisions in a narrow way or even on procedural grounds if possible. Ginsburg is considered one of three liberal justices close to retirement. John Paul Stevens is 88 and David Souter, a New Hampshire native, though only 69 is said to dislike Washington. So Greenfield says, what happens to the court should matter to everyone: Ken Greenfield: It is important to the average person because the kinds of decisions that the court makes with regard to personal privacy or the rights of detainees in Guantanamo or the war against terrorism or environmental laws or the rights of employees to sue employers for discrimination -- those are the kinds of things that every person should care about. At the White House, President Obama’s spokesman expressed his best wishes: Robert Gibbs/White House press secretary: His thoughts and prayers are with her and her family right now and we hope for and wish her a speedy recovery.