Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a stalwart liberal on the US Supreme Court since 1993, died on Friday at age 87, the court said, giving President Donald Trump a chance to expand its conservative majority with a third appointment at a time of deep divisions in America with a presidential election looming.
Ginsburg, a champion of women’s rights who became an icon for American liberals, died at her home in Washington of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said in a statement. She was surrounded by her family, the court said.
Her death just over six weeks before Election Day is likely to set off a heated battle over whether President Donald Trump should nominate, and the Republican-led Senate should confirm, her replacement, or if the seat should remain vacant until the outcome of his race against Democrat Joe Biden is known. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said late Friday that the Senate will vote on Trump’s pick to replace Ginsburg, even though it’s an election year.
The Senate and the nation mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life.
Trump called Ginsburg an “amazing woman” and did not mention filling her vacant Supreme Court seat when he spoke to reporters following a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota. The White House said in a statement that the flag was at half-staff in the justice’s honour.
Biden called Ginsburg an “American hero” on Twitter and told reporters, “The voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider.” He made the comment after McConnell said the chamber would vote on a potential Trump nominee.