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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11:32 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Hundreds gathered outside the Supreme Court last night to honor Ginsburg

Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

After news broke that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, hundreds showed up outside the Supreme Court last night to pay tribute to her with a makeshift memorial on the building's steps.

"You just feel gravitated to be here. For younger folks like ourselves, she represents so much, so much progress that has been made. It just felt like a natural place to be," one attendee told CNN affiliate WJLA.

Vigils also took place in other cities, including Denver and San Francisco.

Watch the scene outside the Supreme Court:

At about 9 p.m., the crowd had grown since the announcement of Ginsburg's death at around 7:30 p.m., CNN reported from the scene.

9:38 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

First lady Melania Trump says Ginsburg's "spirit will live on in all she has inspired"

First Lady Melania Trump shared words of condolences for Ruth Bader Ginsburg whose death was an "immense loss," she tweeted.

"Justice's Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing is a immense loss. Her tenacity & strength were matched by her intellect & compassion, & her spirit will live on in all she has inspired. My prayers are with her family & all who loved her. #RIPRBG," she said.

Read the tweet:

3:23 p.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Here's how long it has taken to confirm past Supreme Court justices

From CNN's Adam Levine, Joan Biskupic and Ariane de Vogue

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death has set the stage for a political battle over the future of the highest court.

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."

But Ginsburg told her granddaughter she wanted her replacement to be appointed by the next president, NPR reported.

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," she dictated to granddaughter Clara Spera days before her death.

Former president Obama, in a statement mourning Ginsburg, also called for Senate Republicans to uphold the standard they set in 2016 when they blocked his nominee.

Here's a look at how long is has taken to confirm Supreme Court justices:

Brett Kavanaugh (89 days)

  • President announces nomination: July 9, 2018
  • Senate receives nomination: July 10, 2018
  • Confirmed: October 6, 2018

Neil Gorsuch (66 days)

  • President announces nomination: January 31, 2017
  • Senate receives nomination: February 1, 2017
  • Confirmed: April 7, 2017

Elena Kagan (87 days)

  • President announces nomination: May 10, 2010
  • Senate receives nomination: May 10, 2010
  • Confirmed: August 5, 2010

Sonia Sotomayor (72 days)

  • President announces nomination: May 26, 2009
  • Senate receives nomination: June 1, 2009
  • Confirmed: August 6, 2009

Samuel Alito (92 days)

  • President announces nomination: October 31, 2005
  • Senate receives nomination: November 10, 2005
  • Confirmed: January 31, 2006

John Roberts (72 days)

  • President announces nomination: July 19, 2005
  • Senate receives nomination: July 29, 2005
  • Confirmed: September 29, 2005

(Note: Roberts was nominated twice by Bush but in immediate succession. The first was to replace O’Connor, but upon the death of Rehnquist, his initial nomination was withdrawn and resubmitted as a nomination for Chief Justice. There are 23 days between his second nomination on September 6 and his confirmation) 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg (50 days) 

  • President announces nomination: June 14, 1993
  • Senate receives nomination: June 22, 1993
  • Confirmed: August 3, 1993

Clarence Thomas (106 days)

  • President announces nomination: July 1, 1991
  • Senate receives nomination: July 8, 1991
  • Confirmed: October 15, 1991

Stephen Breyer (77 days) 

  • President announces nomination: May 13, 1994
  • Senate receives nomination: May 17, 1994
  • Confirmed: July 29, 1994

CLARIFICATION: This story has been updated to clarify the date on which each Supreme Court nomination was announced by the president and when each nomination was received by the Senate.

8:58 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Top Senate Democrat to hold call to discuss Supreme Court vacancy

From CNN's Lauren Fox

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is expected to hold a call with his caucus at 1 p.m. today to discuss the Supreme Court vacancy and strategy, according to a source. 

Democrats have already called on Sen. Mitch McConnell to hold off on pushing for a new nominee following Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, but the Kentucky senator has pledged that he will bring President Trump’s nominee to the floor whoever that person is. 

9:17 a.m. ET, September 19, 2020

Sen. Kamala Harris says Ginsburg believed in the "power of the law as a force for change"

Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images
Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris mourned the loss of of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, calling her "a relentless defender of justice in our country and a legal mind for the ages," according to a statement.

"For all who believe in the power of the law as a force for change, Justice Ginsburg was and will always be a titan. She was a relentless defender of justice in our country and a legal mind for the ages. She also remained, throughout her life, a proud daughter of Brooklyn, with immigrant roots and a fire lit from an early age as a champion for progress and equality," Harris said.

Harris said the late Supreme Court justice "used every ounce of life she was bestowed to urge our nation down a path toward equal justice." She also addressed her passing in the context of Rosh Hashanah.

"According to Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah we begin a period of reflection. Tonight, we reflect on the legacy of Justice Ginsburg and we honor her belief in creating a fair and just world by recommitting to fight for that justice," Harris said.

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."