Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a pioneer for civil rights and the second woman named to the nation's highest court, died on Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer. Her prowess was often noted over the past several decades, leading Ginsburg to become a cultural icon. She was 87.
The Supreme Court confirmed her passing in a statement.
Sworn in as the 107th judge to reach the court, Ginsburg is now one of four women to ever serve, following in the footsteps of trailblazer Sandra Day O' Connor.
Ginsburg arrived to take her seat on the court's bench in October 1993. When President Bill Clinton nominated the 60-year-old judge, she broke through to succeed Justice Byron "Whizzer" White, an appointee of President John F. Kennedy, who was retiring after 31 years. According to the New York Times, Ginsburg's Senate confirmation "seven weeks later, by a vote of 96 to 3, ended a drought in Democratic appointments to the Supreme Court that extended back to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s nomination of Thurgood Marshall 26 years earlier."
Since that time, Ginsburg has given her opinion on several landmark cases including United States v. Virginia (1996), Bush v. Gore (2000), Shelby County v. Holder (2013), Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) and Sessions v. Dimaya (2018).
In recent years referred to by devotees as the Notorious R.B.G., the Justice dealt with health problems throughout her life. A three-time cancer survivor prior to her most recent bout with the disease. Two small tumors were found in one of her lungs during a follow-up for broken ribs in December 2018. She also received a stent to clear a blocked artery in 2014.
As Justice Ginsburg passed her 80th birthday and 20th anniversary on the Supreme Court bench during President Barack Obama’s second term, she shrugged off a chorus of calls for her to retire in order to give a Democratic president the chance to name her replacement. She planned to stay “as long as I can do the job full steam,” she would say, sometimes adding, “There will be a president after this one, and I’m hopeful that that president will be a fine president.”
Those words from Ginsburg remained strong until her death. In a statement released by her granddaughter, Justice Ginsburg said: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell vowed to replace Ginsburg in the coming weeks. In a statement on Friday night, he said an unnamed nominee by President Trump will "receive a vote on the floor."
A contradiction from the Leader's previous stance in 2016 when Merrick Garland was nominated by President Obama 237 days before the 2016 election, but a vote was never brought to the senate floor.
McConnell used comments that then-Sen. Joe Biden had made on the Senate floor in June 1992 in the wake of Justice Clarence Thomas’s contentious confirmation hearing. "The Senate should hold off on additional confirmation hearings until after the 1992 presidential election," Biden argued, citing the combative nature of Thomas’s confirmation. It was this rule that McConnell cited four years ago in blocking Garland. “The Senate will continue to observe the ‘Biden rule’ so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision,” McConnell stated in 2016. We're now 46 days until the 2020 election.
Ginsburg will be remembered as one of the most outspoken voices in the court's history. To the end of her tenure, she remained a one-of-a-kind fighter for equal rights.
Listen to WBT's live Breaking News coverage on the passing of RBG below.