PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87. Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said.
Her death just over six weeks before Election Day is likely to set off a heated battle over whether President Donald Trump should nominate, and the Republican-led Senate should confirm, her replacement, or if the seat should remain vacant until the outcome of his race against Democrat Joe Biden is known. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Friday that the Senate will vote on Trump’s pick to replace Ginsburg, even though it’s an election year.
Chief Justice John Roberts mourned Ginsburg’s passing. “Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. 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,” Roberts said in a statement.
Ginsburg reportedly dictated a statement to her granddaughter shortly before her death. In it, Ginsburg reportedly said, “My most fervent wish I that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
The American flag flew at half-staff outside of the Supreme Court on Friday night as people flocked as word of Ginsburg’s death began to spread. Local leaders also mourned Ginsburg’s death.
Sen. Chris Coons of (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said “we should honor her final wish that she should be replaced only after the next presidential inauguration.”
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a towering figure in America’s long march toward gender equality and she inspired millions around the world. Her jurisprudence was guided by an unwavering commitment to the Constitution and justice for all Americans,” Coons said. “Out of respect for her enormous contributions, with faith in our democracy, and mindful of the lasting consequences of her replacement, we should honor her final wish that she should be replaced only after the next presidential inauguration. Given all the challenges facing our country, this is a moment when we should come together rather than having a rushed confirmation process further divide us.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a towering figure in America’s long march toward gender equality and she inspired millions around the world. Her jurisprudence was guided by an unwavering commitment to the Constitution and justice for all Americans.
— Senator Chris Coons (@ChrisCoons) September 19, 2020
Biden also said the pick to replace Ginsburg should be named after the election.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for all of us. She fought for all of us. As a young attorney, she persisted through every challenge that an unequal system placed in her way to change the laws of our land and lead the legal charge to advance equal rights for women. It was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearings, and to strongly support her accession to the Supreme Court,” Biden said. “In the decades since, she was consistently and reliably the voice that pierced to the heart of every issue, protected the constitutional rights of every American, and never failed in the fierce and unflinching defense of liberty and freedom. Her opinions, and her dissents, will continue to shape the basis of our law for future generations. May her memory be a blessing to all people who cherish our Constitution and its promise.”
Let me be clear: The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 19, 2020
Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey said, “Consistent with the precedent set by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016, Justice Ginsburg’s seat should not be filled until the presidential election concludes and the candidate chosen by voters is sworn into office.”
“Justice Ginsburg was a pioneer for gender equality, a champion for human rights and a fierce defender of workers on an increasingly corporate Supreme Court,” Casey said. “Justice Ginsburg served our Nation honorably and with distinction for four decades. Her heroic battles with cancer inspired countless Americans. I extend condolences to her family and may her memory be a blessing to millions of Americans.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said it was “another sad night for our country.”
Another sad night for our country.
Our nation is more equitable and just because of the trailblazing work of Justice Ginsburg.
She fought tirelessly until the end because she knew what was at stake. Her passing is a call for all us to keep fighting. Rest well, RBG. #RIPRBG
— Jim #MaskUpPHL Kenney (@PhillyMayor) September 19, 2020
“Our nation is more equitable and just because of the trailblazing work of Justice Ginsburg,” Kenney wrote in a tweet. “She fought tirelessly until the end because she knew what was at stake. Her passing is a call for all us to keep fighting. Rest well, RBG.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf called Ginsburg a “truly remarkable figure in American history, as both a tireless defender of the Constitution, and as a pioneer for gender equality.”
“Justice Ginsburg’s historic opinions from the bench broke down barriers for women and protected the vulnerable. Her contributions to our country cannot be overstated. Justice Ginsburg’s life and career have made America a more fair and equitable place,” Wolf said. “She was a tireless pioneer and made monumental and lasting contributions on issues such as gender equality, a woman’s right to choose, voting rights, immigration, health care and affirmative action. Justice Ginsburg never shied away from standing out by standing up for civil rights and equal protections.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s contributions to our country cannot be overstated.
A tireless defender of the Constitution, her historic opinions from the bench broke down barriers for women and protected the vulnerable.
Frances and I join the country in mourning her loss.
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) September 19, 2020
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said: “Justice Ginsburg dedicated her life and career not only to the premise of equal justice and equity under the law, but also to the most basic premise that, regardless of gender, or race, or religion, or orientation, or identity, or nationality and ethnic heritage, we all must commit to fight for the things that we care about.”
Justice Ginsburg was an inspiration to countless young women and girls across our nation and around the globe – dedicating her life to equal justice under the law.
She was an American icon. May her memory be a blessing. pic.twitter.com/yovssX7Ukr
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) September 19, 2020
You can read Murphy’s full statement by clicking here.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal wrote on Twitter, “We mourn the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazing jurist and crusader for women’s rights and equal protection for all under the Constitution, whose jurisprudence will impact as well as inform our democracy for generations to come.”
We mourn the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazing jurist and crusader for women's rights and equal protection for all under the Constitution, whose jurisprudence will impact as well as inform our democracy for generations to come.
— AG Gurbir Grewal (@NewJerseyOAG) September 19, 2020
Ruth Bader Ginsburg lived a life dedicated to the pursuit of empathy, equality, and justice for all. While we can never repay what she has gifted us, we can honor her legacy by continuing her tireless fight for a more inclusive world.
Rest In Peace, RBG.
— AG Gurbir Grewal (@NewJerseyOAG) September 19, 2020
The National Museum of American Jewish History wrote in a statement:
“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
We mourn the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneer and relentless advocate for gender equality and civil rights, who died tonight on the Jewish High Holiday, Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year. During this time of reflection, our thoughts are with the family of Justice Ginsburg and with all who have been impacted by her strength, wisdom, and grace. We are so proud to have been with her in person at the Museum just this past December to present her with the Only America Award and induct her into our Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame. We will hold that event in our hearts for a long time.”
On Thursday night, the National Constitution Center awarded Ginsburg the 2020 Liberty Medal for her efforts to advance liberty and equality for all.
Ginsburg did not deliver a speech during the virtual ceremony, but she submitted a letter calling the award a huge honor. She also said it was her great, good fortune to fight for equality.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)