Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies at 87

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Sept. 18, 2020.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away on Sept. 18, 2020 (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File).

By Meghan McCarthy

September 18, 2020

“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday at her home in Washington, the Court announced in a statement. She was 87.

Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

“Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a 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 served on the nation’s highest court for 27 years; she was nominated to the court by then-President Bill Clinton in 1993. In July, she announced she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment to treat a recurrence of cancer.

“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” she said at the time. “I remain fully able to do that.”

Ginsburg’s death will almost certainly set off what is likely to be a contentious political battle in the coming weeks. Soon after the Supreme Court announced the justice’s passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) released a statement confirming he did plan to move forward with filling the vacancy as soon as possible.

“Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise,” McConnell said.

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” he added.

In 2016, McConnell refused to even hold hearings for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February of that year. 

“The Senate will continue to observe the ‘Biden rule’ so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision” on who would be the next Supreme Court justice, McConnell said on the Senate floor. At the time, McConnell claimed that a Supreme Court vacancy could not be filled, because the country was less than nine months from the presidential election.

Vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has a seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would be in charge of considering any nominee. Harris played a pivotal role in the hearings to consider the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual misconduct during his confirmation.

Early Friday evening, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said a new justice should not be named until after the election. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” Schumer said in a tweet.

“Just days before her death,” NPR reports, “as her strength waned, 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.'”

This story has been updated to include Mitch McConnell’s statement.


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