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Chief justice tumbles after seizure

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Supreme Court Chief Justice John Robert suffers seizure
  • NEW: Roberts has "fully recovered from the incident," Supreme Court says
  • Roberts, 52, was at summer home in Maine
  • Roberts hospitalized as a precaution, court spokeswoman says
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From Bill Mears and Jeanne Meserve
CNN Washington Bureau
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Chief Justice John Roberts suffered a seizure Monday, causing him to fall while at his summer home off the coast of Maine, the Supreme Court said.

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Chief Justice John Roberts was taken to a hospital in Maine after a fall at his summer home.

Roberts has "fully recovered from the incident," and a neurological evaluation "revealed no cause for concern," the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Doctors called the incident a "benign idiopathic seizure," similar to one suffered by the chief justice in 1993, the court statement said. An idiopathic seizure is one with no identifiable physiological cause.

A source close to the chief justice told CNN that Roberts fell five to 10 feet after the seizure.

Roberts, 52, was conscious after the fall, which caused only minor scrapes, the Supreme Court said.

The chief justice was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital where he was expected to stay overnight, officials said.

A hospital spokesman would not discuss the case, citing privacy concerns.

Sources close to the chief justice said Roberts suffered an unexplained seizure in 1993, soon after his first nomination to the D.C. circuit stalled in the Senate.

Friends blamed the seizure on stress from the confirmation fight, and Roberts limited certain activities such as driving after it happened. But after a few weeks, the problem went away, the sources said.

Roberts had not suffered any recurrence since the seizure more than 14 years ago, the sources said.

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were informed about the earlier seizure when they were considering Roberts' nomination to be chief justice in 2005, but they did not think it was significant enough to bring up during his confirmation hearings, said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, who chaired the panel at the time.

"We knew but we didn't draw a heavy breath on it," Specter said Monday.

President Bush was notified about Monday's incident during an Oval Office meeting, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.

Roberts recently spent two weeks in Europe, where he taught a law course in Vienna, Austria, and attended a judicial conference in Paris, France, court sources said. Roberts was at the Supreme Court late last week before traveling to Maine.

The chief justice bought his vacation home in June 2006.

Roberts was appointed by Bush and has served as chief justice since September 2005. He is the youngest of the court's nine justices.

Roberts served on the influential federal appellate court for the District of Columbia before being nominated to the Supreme Court after the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

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The Supreme Court ended its session in June and won't reconvene until October.

Roberts and other federal judges, who have lifetime tenure, are not required to divulge information about their health or medical conditions. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report

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