Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Liberal Supreme Court justice dies aged 87

‘Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature’

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Supreme Court judge dies aged 87

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal stalwart of the US Supreme Court, has died at the age of 87.

In a move that immediately raised questions about the ideological make-up of the court that Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed to make more conservative, it was announced she had died on Friday evening from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Ginsburg, who was nominated to the court during Bill Clinton’s first term and who was a champion of women’s rights, died at home, surrounded by friends, the court said in a statement.

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

”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.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 'The president is not a lawyer'

The jurist, who was born in Brooklyn and educated at Harvard Law School, was only the second woman justice appointed to the nation’s highest court, the first being Sandra Day O’Connor, appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1981

She announced this summer that she was being treated for pancreatic cancer, and she was obliged to visit hospital several times in recent months, causing anxiety to her fans and those concerned abut the impact on the balance of the court.

If Mr Trump does seek to appoint a replacement before November, he will face intense opposition from Democrats scarred by the experience of Barack Obama in the spring of 2016, when he sought to appoint Merick Garland, to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

As it was, the Republican controlled Senate, led by Mitch McConnell refused to even agree to a hearing on the nomination, never mind have a vote. Mr McConnell said given it was the final year of Mr Obama’s term he ought to leave the decision until the next president.

In 2016, McConnell said his refusal to even hold a hearing for Mr Garland was based on what he called the “Biden rule”. These were comments made by then senator Biden after the bitter 1992 Clarence Thomas hearings, as to whether the Senate to hold off on additional hearings.

“The Senate will continue to observe the ‘Biden rule’ so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision” on who to name to the court, Mr McConnell said on the Senate floor.

As it was Mr Trump, who vowed to pack the court with conservative justices when he was campaigning for the White House, was quick to meet his words with deeds once he entered the Oval Office.

In February 2017, the court was joined by Neil Gorsuch, and in July 2018 by Brett Kavanagh, two appointments designed to please Mr Trump’s social conservative base.

Reports pointed out that while Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court's liberal wing, she also secured celebrity status among her admirers, including many young women.

Her nickname was the Notorious RBG, for her defence of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength she displayed in the face of personal loss and a number of health crises.

A 2018 documentary about her was named simply RBG.

Additional reporting by agencies

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