WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87.
Ginsburg died of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said.
Ginsburg announced in July that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lesions on her liver, the latest of her several battles with cancer.
Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers. Young women especially seemed to embrace the court’s Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defense of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength and resilience she displayed in the face of personal loss and health crises.
Those health issues included five bouts with cancer beginning in 1999, falls that resulted in broken ribs, insertion of a stent to clear a blocked artery and assorted other hospitalizations after she turned 75.
She resisted calls by liberals to retire during Barack Obama’s presidency at a time when Democrats held the Senate and a replacement with similar views could have been confirmed. Instead, President Donald Trump will almost certainly try to push Ginsburg’s successor through the Republican-controlled Senate — and move the conservative court even more to the right.
Ginsburg’s effect on Austin
Earlier this year, the LBJ Foundation, an Austin-based nonprofit, honored Ginsburg with its “LBJ Liberty & Justice For All” Award. The foundation said the award recognizes those who carry on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s legacy.
Last December, Austin City Council honored Ginsburg in its own way, with council members donning accessories and earrings inspired by Ginsburg. Council members said the move showed their solidarity during a difficult political climate.
Former President George W. Bush issued a statement Friday evening, calling Ginsburg a ‘trailblazer’ and saying she inspired many.
“Laura and I join our fellow Americans in mourning the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She dedicated many of her 87 remarkable years to the pursuit of justice and equality, and she inspired more than one generation of women and girls. Justice Ginsburg loved our country and the law,” Bush said.
Attorney General Ken Paxton said Ginsburg broke barriers during her career and was “a fighter of top intellect and reason.”
“Justice Ginsburg broke countless barriers throughout her long, distinguished career and served as an example for women across the country. We are thankful for her service,” Paxton said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said he has always had a deep respect for Ginsburg, even though they had ideological differences.
“Her unwavering commitment to public service has inspired a generation of young Americans – particularly women – to reach for their dreams,” Cornyn said in a statement.
Democratic Senate nominee MJ Hegar, Cornyn’s opponent, spoke of Ginsburg’s legacy of standing up for equality and justice.
“For decades she worked on the frontlines to secure and uphold the rights of women, workers, and those often left behind. My thoughts are with her family, friends, and the millions of women and Americans she fought for. Today we mourn her loss and tomorrow we commit to honoring her legacy by continuing her work,” Hegar said.
U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10) said Ginsburg was a pioneer and an inspiration.
“She dedicated her life to seeking equality and justice and cared deeply about this country. In doing so, she inspired others to seek what is right and persevere despite life’s adversities,” he said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) said Ginsburg’s death is a hard hit.
“This is a painful loss of a defender of our most fundamental liberties at a time when our very democracy is increasingly imperiled by Donald Trump and his enablers,” he said in a statement. “The best tribute to our beloved RBG is to replace a President who shares none of her values. Everything is at stake; let’s give it everything we have.”
Ginsburg’s death comes just weeks before the Presidential Election.
“This is an important time,” said Angela Evans, who is Dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
While President Trump is expected to nominate a conservative to the seat, Evans says the political ramifications for the Supreme Court are more nuanced.
“You don’t know where the nominee’s pensions are,” said Evans. “Like somebody who is a strict constructionist and really goes to the constitution like an Antonin Scalia, or whether it’s someone like a John Roberts.”
With a larger-than-life personality, Ginsburg was known as “RBG” to her dedicated fanbase.
Evans says she doesn’t expect Ginsburg’s death to have a major influence on the outcome of the Presidential Election. If anything, she says it may mobilize voters on both sides of the aisle.
“I’m not sure people see a Supreme Court justice as someone that can actually sway an election,” she said.