- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. walked out of a hospital in Maine yesterday, released a day after he suffered a seizure. The White House said he told President Bush he was doing fine.

Chief Justice Roberts strode briskly out of the Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport wearing a blue sport coat, open-collar shirt and slacks. He waved to onlookers before getting into a waiting sport utility vehicle for a short trip to a pier, where he then took a pontoon boat to his summer home on Hupper Island, near Port Clyde, Maine.

Chief Justice Roberts, 52, had no response when a reporter yelled, “How are you feeling?”

Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said he plans to finish his vacation and that doctors found no cause for concern.

Chief Justice Roberts was hospitalized after he fell on a pier near his home on Monday. He had a prior unexplained seizure in 1993. Doctors who examined him after his seizure said they found no tumor, stroke or any other explanation for the episode.

Two Senate Judiciary Committee aides who were involved in Chief Justice Roberts‘ confirmation hearing in 2005 said the committee was aware of a previous seizure whose cause was never diagnosed. The sources would not say whether the chief justice disclosed that he took any medication as a result. Such health information is often provided to the panel in private briefings, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

By definition, someone who has had more than one seizure without any other cause is determined to have epilepsy, said Dr. Marc Schlosberg, a Washington Hospital Center neurologist who is not involved in the case.

Whether Chief Justice 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.

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.

Still, Dr. Mkrdichian said anyone who has had two otherwise unexplained seizures is at high risk for a third, and that he puts such patients on anti-seizure medications.

“Having two seizures so many years apart without any known culprit is going to be very difficult to figure out,” agreed Dr. Max Lee of the Milwaukee Neurological Institute.

The incident occurred around 2 p.m. on a pier near Chief Justice Roberts‘ summer home on Maine’s Hupper Island. He had just gotten off a boat and was returning home after running errands, Miss Arberg said. Port Clyde, which is part of the town of St. George, is about 90 miles by car northeast of Portland, midway up the coast of Maine.

Chief Justice Roberts was taken by private boat to the mainland and then transferred to an ambulance, St. George Fire Chief Tim Polky said.

“He was conscious and alert when they put him in the rescue [vehicle],” Chief Polky said.

Named to the court by Mr. Bush in 2005, Chief Justice Roberts is the youngest justice on a court in which the senior member, Justice John Paul Stevens, is 87.