Last updated on Sep 21st, 2020 at 10:36 am
United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at the age of 87.
Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreas cancer at her home in Washington, DC, surrounded by her family , the court said in a statement on Friday evening.
“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in the statement.
“We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her – a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”
Ginsburg was a giant of American jurisprudence and a stalwart defender of women’s and voting rights.
She was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then US president Bill Clinton – becoming only the second woman ever to serve on the court.
Ginsburg’s death just over six weeks before the November 3 presidential election is likely to spark a fight in the US Senate over whether she should be replaced by a jurist nominated by US President Donald Trump.
Her dream was to be an opera singer. She was known for long pauses as she spoke. She was an architect of the women’s rights movement. She had five bouts with cancer. Read about the towering life of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. https://t.co/zzDH7BlhqF
— The Associated Press (@AP) September 19, 2020
Trump has already has named two conservative justices to the court.
According to National Public Radio, just days before her death, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer echoed that on Friday, saying the “vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president”.
He described Ginsburg as a “giant in American history” and said “she would want us all to fight as hard as we can to preserve her legacy”.
Scores of people filled the steps leading up to the Supreme Court on Friday night, crowding the plaza outside and spilling across the street in a candlelight tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. https://t.co/prHG2tQMHu
— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 19, 2020
With the confirmation of Trump nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, the US Supreme Court has been evenly divided between conservative and liberal justices with Roberts, the chief justice, acting in its most recent terms as swing vote.
If Trump nominates a conservative as Ginsburg’s replacement, it would threaten to swing that balance to conservatives and potentially threaten the landmark precedent in US law of Roe v. Wade, which gave women a privacy right to abortion.
Ginsburg announced in July that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lesions on her liver, the latest of her several battles with cancer.
Tributes poured in:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the single most important female lawyer in the history of the American republic. A fierce advocate of woman’s rights and justice for all people, she will be missed not only in the United States, but across the world. Rest in Power. pic.twitter.com/16nuJTI3fx
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) September 19, 2020
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored. My statement: https://t.co/Wa6YcT5gDi
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 19, 2020
We are saddened by the passing of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a role model in leadership excellence. We were honoured to publish a book with her earlier this year, in our I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE series. A luta continua. #RIPRBG pic.twitter.com/ziJFXOlStW
— NelsonMandela (@NelsonMandela) September 19, 2020
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 19, 2020
— inna shevchenko (@femeninna) September 19, 2020
We have lost a true champion who protected the rights of all Americans. Ruth Bader Ginsburg you inspired generations of women. Your words and powerful dissents are part of the impressive legacy you leave behind. We’ll continue the work. Thank you Notorious RBG ✊🏽 #VOTE #VOTE2020 pic.twitter.com/cOAw9dUKX4
— Queen Latifah (@IAMQUEENLATIFAH) September 19, 2020