Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a staunch advocate for women’s rights, died in her home on Sept. 18. Her death was due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, according to the court. She was 87.
Upon hearing the news of Ginsburg’s death, President Donald Trump told reporters, “She was an amazing woman, whether you agree or not. She was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.”
Appointed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg gave attention to divisive social issues, ranging from same-sex marriage to the limitation of capital punishment. She had renown before she took the bench as an advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union and women’s rights under the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied to gender. On the court, the Associate Press considered that her most significant moment was when she wrote the opinion on United States v. Virginia, ordering the Virginia Military Institute to accept women or give up its funding.
Ginsburg’s death happened six weeks before Election Day, thus stimulating a political fight over the future of the court. Should Trump nominate another Supreme Court Justice, the Republican-led Senate can easily confirm her replacement. The dividing issue, furthermore, is whether the president should act now or have the seat remain vacant until the next elected president.
Just days before her death, NPR reports, Ginsburg dictated to her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Despite public outcry, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed the Senate will vote on Trump’s appointment to the seat, regardless of if it is an election year.
Democratic nominee Joe Biden believes the winner of the election should choose Ginsburg’s replacement. “There is no doubt . . . that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” he told reporters, according to NPR.
Former President Barack Obama, in a statement mourning Ginsburg, commented on the debate of voting another Supreme Court seat: “Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in.”
He went on to say these rules that have been made must be applied “with consistency” and “not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”
Ginsburg’s death has nonetheless spurred public action: according to Vote.org, two days after her death, there was “a total of 40,771 new voter registrations” and a “68 percent increase from the prior weekend.” There were also “35,288 vote-by-mail ballot requests.”
On Friday, Ginsburg’s casket was kept at Congress in a formal ceremony. The honor of lying in state has been accorded “fewer than three dozen times, mostly to presidents, vice presidents and members of congress,” reported the Associated Press. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said it was her “high honor” to pay respects to Ginsburg as the first woman and Jewish American to ever lie in state.
Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt eulogized Ginsburg and recited a prayer in Hebrew. “Brick by brick, case by case,” said Holtzblatt, “she changed the course of law. Today, she makes history again.”
Ginsburg will be buried next week in Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband, Martin, who passed away in 2010. She is survived by her two children and grandchildren.