Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

 

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women's rights champion who became the court's second female justice, died on Friday at her home in Washington.

Ginsburg died of complications in pancreatic cancer, the court said.

Ginsberg's passing just over six weeks before Election Day is likely to set off a heated battle on whether President Donald Trump should nominate, and the Republican-led Senate should affirm, her replacement, or even if the chair should remain empty until the results of his race against Democrat Joe Biden is understood.

Ginsburg announced in July that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lesions on her liver, the latest of her many struggles with cancer.



Ginsburg spent her last years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of this court's liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers. Young women especially seemed to adopt the court's Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defense of the rights of girls and minorities, and the durability and strength she exhibited in the face of personal loss and health disasters.

Those health problems 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 hospitalisations later she switched 75.



She resisted calls by liberals to retire throughout Barack Obama's presidency in a time when Democrats held the Senate and a replacement with similar views might have been verified. Instead, Mr. Trump will almost certainly attempt to push Ginsburg's successor during the Republican-controlled Senate -- and move the conservative court more to the right.

Ginsburg antagonized Mr. Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign in a series of media interviews, including calling him a faker. She shortly apologized.

Illustrious career

Ginsburg was a mom of 2, an opera buff and also an intellectual who observed arguments behind oversized glasses for several years, though she awakened them for more stylish frames in her later years. At debate sessions in the elaborate court, she was famous for digging deep into case records and for being a stickler for following the rules.

She argued six important cases before the court in the 1970s when she had been an architect of their women's rights movement. She won five.

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not require a seat on the Supreme Court to make her place in the American history books," Mr. Clinton said at the time of her appointment. "She's already done that."

On the courtroom, where she was called a facile writer, her significant bulk remarks were the 1996 judgment that ordered the Virginia Military Institute to accept girls or give its state funding, and also the 2015 decision that upheld separate commissions several states use to draw congressional districts.

Apart from civil rights, Ginsburg chose an interest in capital punishment, voting repeatedly to limit its usage.

In addition, she questioned the caliber of attorneys for poor accused murderers. In the most divisive of instances, including the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000, she was frequently at odds with the court's more conservative members -- initially Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

The division remained the same after John Roberts replaced Mr. Rehnquist as chief justice, Samuel Alito took O'Connor's seat, and, under Mr. Trump, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh combined the court, in seats that was held by Scalia and Mr. Kennedy, respectively.

Ginsburg would say later that the 5-4 decision that settled the 2000 presidential elections for Republican George W. Bush was a"breathtaking episode" in the court.

She was possibly personally closest on the court to Scalia, her opposite. "How am I going to answer this in a way that is a true put-down?" She explained.



The chair remained empty until after Mr. Trump's sudden presidential victory.Mr. McConnell has said he'd move to confirm a Trump nominee when there had been a vacancy this season.

Ginsburg authored powerful dissents of her own in cases involving abortion, voting rights and pay discrimination against women. She stated some were aimed at swaying the opinions of her fellow judges while others were"an appeal to the intellect of another day" in the hopes that they'd provide guidance to future courts.

"Hope springs eternal," she said in 2007,"and once I'm writing a dissent, I am always hoping for that fifth or sixth vote -- even though I am disappointed more often than not."

She wrote memorably in 2013 that the court's decision to cut a key part of the federal law that had ensured the voting rights of Black men and women, Hispanics and other minorities had been"like throwing away the umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."


Change on the court hit Ginsburg particularly hard. She dissented forcefully from the court's conclusion in 2007 to maintain a national ban on an abortion procedure that opponents call partial-birth abortion. Even the"alarming" judgment, Ginsburg said,"cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right announced again and again by this court -- and with increasing comprehension of its centrality to women's lifestyles."

VARIOUS HEALTH STRUGGLES

Back in 1999, Ginsburg had surgery for colon cancer and received radiation and chemotherapy. She had surgery back in 2009 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and at December 2018 for cancerous growths on her left lung. Following the last operation, she missed court sessions for the first time in over 25 years on the seat.

Ginsburg was treated with radiation for a tumour on her pancreas in August 2019. She also maintained an active schedule even during the 3 weeks of radiation. When she revealed a recurrence of her cancer in July 2020, Ginsburg said she remained"completely able" to continue as a justice.

Joan Ruth Bader was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933, the second kid at a middle-class family. Her older sister, that gave her the lifelong nickname"Kiki," died at age 6, so Ginsburg grew up in Brooklyn's Flatbush department as an only child. Her dream, she's said, was to be an opera singer.

Ginsburg graduated at the top of her Columbia University law school class in 1959 but couldn't find a law firm willing to hire her. She'd"three strikes against her" -- for being Jewish, feminine and a mother, as she set it in 2007.



She'd married her husband, Martin, in 1954, the year she graduated from Cornell University. She attended Harvard University's law school but moved to Columbia when her husband took a law job there. Martin Ginsburg went on to become a dominant tax attorney and law professor. Martin Ginsburg died in 2010. She's survived by two children, Jane and James, and several grandchildren.

Ginsburg once said she had not entered the law within an equal-rights winner. "I believed I could do an attorney's job better than any other," she wrote. "I have no talent in the arts, but I really do write quite well and analyse issues clearly."

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