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US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies

September 19, 2020

The champion of liberal causes has died as a result of pancreatic cancer, the US Supreme Court said. "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," she said days before dying.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Image: Getty Images/S. Silbiger

Veteran Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg —a champion of progressive causes — died of pancreatic cancer on Friday at the age of 87. She was the second woman to serve on the highest court in the United States.

"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," said Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.

In July, Ginsburg announced she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment. She refused to step down during the treatment, the last among her several fights with cancer. 

Ginsburg had hoped that she would not succumb to her troubled health until US President Donald Trump would be out of office.

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," she told her granddaughter Clara Spera days before passing away.

Read more: Opinion: Trump offers Republicans a far-right Supreme Court

US President Donald Trump called Ginsburg a "titan of the law" and went on to say on Twitter that "Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable towards one's colleagues or different points of view."

Joe Biden, the Democratic Party's nominee for president in November's election, said Ginsburg was "fierce and unflinching in her pursuit of ... civil rights for everyone" and that her work would "shape the basis of law for a generation."

'Great loss to the nation'

For many in the United States and elsewhere, she was a beacon for progressive takes on women's and minority rights.

"The passing of the great Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a great loss to the nation," said civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton. "It is a tremendous loss to civil rights for all Americans. RIP RBG."

US media, citing undisclosed sources, suggested that Trump could already be working toward filling the vacant Supreme Court position. The process would be a reversal for Republicans, who lobbied against US President Barack Obama filling a vacant seat over 200 days before the 2016 presidential election. The 2020 US election will be held on November 3, 45 days after Ginsburg's death.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filed until we have a new president," said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, quoting his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell verbatim in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016.

Read more: US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of women's rights

ls/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)