Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87; McConnell says Trump nominee will get Senate vote

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives to watch U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015.
U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives to watch U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts)

Christian and conservative leaders offered prayers for the family of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon and champion of women’s rights who died Friday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will vote on Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court amid reports that she wished “not to be replaced until a new president is installed.”

“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement announcing Ginsburg’s death at 87 due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

“Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her—a tireless and resolute champion of justice,” Roberts added.

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Upon hearing about her passing, President Donald Trump told reporters: “She led an amazing life. Whether you agree or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. Sad to hear that."

The White House lowered flags to half-staff, and the president released a statement hailing Ginsberg as a "titan of the law" who was "renowned for her brilliant mind," and showed that one can "disagree without being disagreeable toward one's colleagues or different points of view." He added that she was a "fighter to the end" as she battled cancer. "May her memory be a great and magnificent blessing to the world."

“While Family Policy Alliance sharply criticized Justice Ginsburg’s flawed interpretation of laws that ultimately advanced abortion and harmed both religious freedom and families, she held a position of honor in our nation’s highest Court and built friendships on both sides of the aisle,” said Autumn Leva, vice president of strategy for the group that protects religious freedom, families and life.

“Her groundbreaking work to eliminate discrimination on the basis of sex, while leading to many negative and unintended consequences, also helped pave the way for the transformation of athletic and educational opportunities for girls — a battle that continues in the headlines today,” Leva added. “Our prayers are with Justice Ginsburg’s family. They are also with our nation’s leaders, who face pivotal decisions that will shape the Court and the country for generations.”

Evangelist Franklin Graham called on people of faith to pray for Ginsburg's family. “May God comfort her loved ones,” he wrote on Twitter.

Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said in a video message that he had some major disagreements with Ginsburg. “But right now, the most important thing for us to keep in mind is that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a human being. … We need to extend sympathy and pray for that family as they grieve tonight.”

We also need to “pray for our country in a really divided time,” Moore said.

Former President George W. Bush acknowledged that Ginsburg “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.”

Former first lady and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also commented on her passing, saying in a post on Twitter: "Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me. There will never be another like her. Thank you RBG."

Meanwhile, NPR reported that days before her death, Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera, saying, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” NPR suggested that Ginsburg wanted her seat left vacant until 2025 if Trump is reelected in November. 

However, McConnell said Friday night that Republicans will move ahead with plans to fill the vacancy during the president's first term.

“Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary. Once again, we will keep our promise,” McConnell said in a statement. "President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Penny Nance, CEO and president of Concerned Women for America, said she appreciated Ginsburg’s role “as a trailblazer for women, even as we disagreed with her judicial philosophy.”

The head of the public policy organization for women also pointed to concerns over the politics behind the nominations.

“Our happy warrior women are battle-tested and know what to expect from the left on this issue,” she said. “They understand what is at stake when it comes to the U.S. Supreme Court, and we are ready to withstand the left’s radical attacks on any nominee.”

Nance continued, “If there is one thing we learned from what they did to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, it is that it doesn’t matter who the nominee is, nor his or her record. What matters to the radical left is that it is President Donald Trump’s nominee. Not even truth mattered to them with the nomination of Kavanaugh.

“But we withstood their attacks then, and we will do so again. We are ready to put another constitutionalist on the high court and stand ready to spend considerable resources to see him or her through to confirmation.”

If a Trump nominee gets Senate confirmation to fill the vacancy, the conservatives would purportedly have a reliable majority (6-3) on the court for the first time in decades. Roberts, however, who was nominated by George W. Bush, has sided with leftists on the court in some cases. Justice Neil Gorsuch has similarly sided with the left on the court in cases. 

Former President Bill Clinton appointed Ginsburg in 1993.

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