Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died

By Fernando Alfonso III, Veronica Rocha, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Rob Picheta, CNN

Updated 8:10 a.m. ET, September 20, 2020
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8:48 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Trump issues Ginsburg proclamation and orders flags to half-staff

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

Samuel Corum/Getty Images
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump issued a proclamation overnight remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg and ordered flags flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of her interment.

Trump touted Ginsburg as a "an inspiration to all Americans" and a "fighter to the end."

The proclamation reads:

"As a mark of respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the United States, I hereby order, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including section 7 of title 4, United States Code, that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on the day of interment."
9:05 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Tributes to Ginsburg come in from around the world

As Europe woke to the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, several leaders and political figures paid tribute to the Justice.

Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the EU Commission, called Ginsburg "a pioneer for women’s rights, law and justice."

Emmanuel Macron, president of France, tweeted: "An exceptional woman is gone. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has fought a universal struggle for justice, gender equality and respect for fundamental rights all her life. Her immense heritage will continue to inspire us."

Pedro Sánchez, prime minister of Spain, described Ginsburg as a one of the Supreme Court's "most brilliant figures"

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan added: "Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an inspiration to me, and millions more, as a lawyer seeking justice for others, a feminist and a force for unity when we are surrounded by division."

And Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote: "Such sad news. And what a loss for the USA of a brilliantly clever woman -- an icon of justice and women’s rights."

8:36 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

What did Justice Ginsburg mean to you? Share your stories with us

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, the court announced. She was 87.

We want to hear from you.

8:22 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

What we know about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death and the brewing battle over her successor

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at an annual Women's History Month reception in the US Capitol building in 2015.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at an annual Women's History Month reception in the US Capitol building in 2015. Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Tributes are flowing in from around the world for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman on the US Supreme Court and a titan of the American left, who delivered progressive votes on the defining issues of the past three decades and won acclamation from devotees far beyond Washington, DC in the process.

But Ginsburg's death has also transformed the presidential election and set up a monumental battle on Capitol Hill, as senior Republicans signal their intent to hold a vote on a successor just four years after blocking President Obama's final Supreme Court nominee.

Here's what you need to know this morning:

  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, the court announced. She was 87. Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and cast votes on abortion rights, same-sex marriage, voting rights, immigration, health care, affirmative action and many more of the most debated issues of recent times.
  • Ginsburg was honored by figures on both sides of the aisle on Friday. Chief Justice John Roberts said "our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature," while Hillary Clinton said "Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me. There will never be another like her." Former President Bill Clinton said "Ginsburg’s life and landmark opinions moved us closer to a more perfect union," while current President Donald Trump added: "She led an amazing life. What else can you say?," hailing Ginsburg as a "brilliant mind."
  • But minutes after her death was announced, a fight to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court began. Addressing the liberal justice's death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday evening, "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." Four years ago, McConnell led an 11-month Republican blockade of President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, arguing that a president should not be able to seat a new justice in the final year of their term.
  • A source close to the President told CNN that Trump has been "salivating" to nominate a replacement for the liberal stalwart even before her death on Friday and the possibility of picking a replacement for Ginsburg has weighed on his mind. The White House is prepared to move "very quickly" on putting forward a nominee to replace Ginsburg once Trump signals his intentions, a senior administration official said Friday night.
  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has responded to Republican efforts to fire the starting gun on the replacement process, saying: "Let me be clear: The voters should pick a President, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg."
  • And Obama called on senators to fulfill the precedent they set four years ago, writing: "A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment ... As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard."
8:21 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Obama pays tribute to Ginsburg and urges Republicans not to fill vacancy until after election

From CNN's Dan Berman

Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/Pool/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama lauded Justice Ginsburg’s career and also weighed in on the process to replace her in a statement released on Twitter.

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored," Obama said in a tweet which linked to his official statement.

 Here is part of his statement:

“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. A basic principle of the law – and of everyday fairness – is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment. The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle. As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard. The questions before the Court now and in the coming years – with decisions that will determine whether or not our economy is fair, our society is just, women are treated equally, our planet survives, and our democracy endures – are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process.”

2:47 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Opinion: Grant Ruth Bader Ginsburg her wish

From Frida Ghitis

Editor's note: Frida Ghitis, a former CNN producer and correspondent, is a world affairs columnist. The views expressed in this commentary belong to the author.

There's no woman in the United States whose life, career and security was not bolstered by the work of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

We are all in her debt. That's true for all of us, young and old, Democrat or Republican. We should keep that in mind as we consider her dying wish. As the end of her life approached, Ginsburg dictated to her granddaughter a message for us:

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Ginsburg's life is a heroic story of perseverance, brilliance and dedication. The indignities she endured because she was a woman seem unthinkable to us today, and that's only because she was so successful in fighting against them.

Read more here:

2:47 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Opinion: Ginsburg made the law fairer for every woman

From Mary Ziegler

Editor's note: Mary Ziegler, a law professor at Florida State University, is the author of "Abortion and the Law in America: Roe v. Wade to the Present." The views expressed here are hers.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing marks the end of an era in more ways than one.

Having repeatedly beaten cancer, Ginsburg had come to almost seem invincible. She was a larger than life figure who became a hero to many young women trying to follow the path she forged in the legal profession. Ginsburg's age and frail health were no secret, but her loss still comes as a shock.

Perhaps more than any other jurist, Ginsburg transformed the law of sex discrimination in America. It is hard to imagine the Supreme Court without her.

Even before joining the Supreme Court, she convinced an all-male Supreme Court that laws enforcing sex stereotypes violated the Constitution -- and demonstrated how those laws harmed men as well as women. Ginsburg helped make sense of how discrimination against pregnant workers could be pernicious.

On the court, Ginsburg offered the clearest and most cogent defense of abortion rights. She showed that sex discrimination involved often-baseless generalizations -- a conclusion that helped advance successful equality claims made by LGBTQ+ groups.

Ginsburg has become an icon for a reason. Her impact on constitutional jurisprudence is hard to overestimate.

Read more here:

12:24 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

McConnell urges senators to keep "powder dry" and don't lock themselves into a position

From CNN's Manu Raju

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

In a message to GOP senators late Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his colleagues not to lock themselves into a position they may later regret and counseled them to be cautious about what they are telling the media about their views on how to process the nomination, according to a person who saw the note.

He urges them to "keep your powder dry."

McConnell doesn't indicate a timeframe for considering the nomination but makes clear he believes there's enough time to take up the nominee this year.

12:14 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Here's what happened when Senate Republicans refused to vote on Merrick Garland's Supreme Court nomination in 2016

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg less than two months from the presidential election has forced a reexamination of Republicans' 11-month blockade of Merrick Garland in 2016.

Justice Antonin Scalia, who had been a conservative stalwart on the Supreme Court since being nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1986, died on February 13, 2016.

Within hours -- as other senators were offering condolences to Scalia's family -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a stunning, categorical rejection of then-President Barack Obama's authority more than 11 months before the Democrat's replacement would be sworn into office.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president," McConnell said.

Four years later, McConnell said in a Friday night statement that President Donald Trump's nominee to replace Ginsburg will get a vote in the Senate. Doing so would be a complete reversal of his position in 2016, when the GOP-led Senate refused to hold a hearing or vote on Obama's nominee, saying it was too close to the election.

Read more here: