US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg dies at 87

Ruth Ginsburg became only the second woman ever to serve as a justice on the nation's highest court

A lifelong advocate of gender equality, Ruth Ginsburg acquired the reputation of a moderate and cautious judge. Photo: PTI

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the history-making jurist, feminist icon and a champion of womens rights and social justice, has died of cancer at the age of 87.

Ginsburg became only the second woman ever to serve as a justice on the nation’s highest court. A lifelong advocate of gender equality, she acquired the reputation of a cautious or moderate judge and will be remembered as a legal colossus.

“Our nation has lost a justice 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 tried and resolute champion of justice,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement.

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Ginsburg’s death on Friday, less than 50 days before the November 3 presidential election, could open up another battlefront between President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival and former vice president Joe Biden.

Nominated by the former Democratic president Bill Clinton, Ginsburg served in the US Supreme Court for 27 years. She was battling cancer for the past several years.

President Donald Trump, who was campaigning in Minnesota, said that she led an amazing life.

“She led an amazing life. What else could you say, she was an amazing woman. Whether you agree or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life,” he told reporters immediately after he concluded his speech on Friday.

News about the death of Ginsburg came after Trump had started his well-attended crowd of several thousand people, during which he mentioned nominating Republican Senator Ted Cruz among his shortlist of next Supreme Court judge nominee.

As one of four liberal justices on the Supreme Court, Ginsburgs health was watched closely. Her death raises the prospect of President Trump, a Republican, trying to expand its slender conservative majority, even before the presidential election.

So far, Trump has nominated two judges to the Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. US Supreme Court justices serve for life or until they choose to retire.

“Today, our Nation mourns the loss of a titan of the law. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served more than 27 years as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States — notably just the second woman to be appointed to the Court. She was a loving wife to her late husband, Martin, and a dedicated mother to her two children, Trump said in a statement later.

Biden, who was also in Minnesota as part of his campaign told reporters that Ginsburg was not only a giant in her own profession but also a beloved figure.

She practiced the highest American ideals as a justice. Equality and justice under the law and Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for all of us, as I said, a beloved figure, he said.

Biden said that her replacement would be picked up by the winner of the November 3 elections.

“Let me be clear: that the voters should pick the President and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” he said.

This was the position of Republican Senate took in 2016. When there were almost 10 months to go before the election. Thats the position the United States Senate must take today. And the election is only 46 days off. I think the fastest justice ever confirmed was 47 days. And the average is closer to 70 days. And so, we should do this with full consideration. And that is my hope and expectation of what will happen, Biden said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that President Trumps nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.

The Hill newspaper, quoting unnamed sources, said that the Republican leadership in the Senate expects Trump to put forward a nominee and Circuit Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Amul Thapar are among the front-runners.

Indian-American Thapar was among the first shortlist of individuals for the Supreme Court nominee that he announced in 2016, before the elections.

Currently, a judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, Thapar, 51, was one of the seven judges that Trump had interviewed in 2018 to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, after he announced his retirement. He finally nominated Kavanaugh.

Former president Barack Obama, in a statement mourning Ginsburg, described her as a “relentless litigator and an incisive jurist.” “Over a long career on both sides of the bench — as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist — Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesnt only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are — and who we can be,” he said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We must honor Justice Ginsburg’s trailblazing career and safeguard her powerful legacy by ensuring that the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court upholds her commitment to equality, opportunity and justice for all”.

Senator and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris said that for all who believe in the power of the law as a force for change, Ginsburg was and will always be a titan.

She was a relentless defender of justice in our country and a legal mind for the ages. She also remained, throughout her life, a proud daughter of Brooklyn, with immigrant roots and a fire lit from an early age as a champion for progress and equality, she said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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