Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87.
The Supreme Court announced her passing in a statement issued Friday.
In the statement, Chief Justice John Roberts said that, "our nation lost a jurist of historic stature."
"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.
President Trump said he was "actually sad to hear" about the passing of Ginsburg after hearing about it from a reporter, calling her "an amazing woman, whether you agree or not."
"She just died? Wow. I didn't know that," Trump said. "I just – you're telling me now for the first time. She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agree or not. She was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I'm actually sad to hear that."
Trump later released a statement calling Ginsburg a "titan of the law."
"Renowned for her brilliant mind and powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one's colleagues or different points of view," Trump said. "Her opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of legal minds. ... May her memory be a great and magnificent blessing to the world."
Former Vice President Joe Biden called Ginsburg "not only a giant in the legal profession but a beloved figure."
"Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for all of us," Biden said.
Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers.
Young women especially seemed to embrace the court’s Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defense of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength and resilience she displayed in the face of personal loss and health crises.
Those health issues 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 hospitalizations after she turned 75.
She resisted calls by liberals to retire during Barack Obama’s presidency at a time when Democrats held the Senate and a replacement with similar views could have been confirmed.
Instead, Trump will almost certainly try to push Ginsburg’s successor through the Republican-controlled Senate — and move the conservative court even more to the right.
"There is no doubt, let me be clear," Biden said, "the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider."
"This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016," Biden added.
In a statement about Justice Ginsburg's passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell assured that "President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate."
In a post on Medium, former president Barack Obama addressed the controversy about Republicans holding up his nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.
"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," Obama wrote.
In the aftermath of her death, crowds have gathered in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., to pay their respects to Ginsburg, as well as to protest.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the court in 1993 by President Clinton, becoming just the second female justice in history.
As the anchor of the court’s so-called liberal wing, she became known for her fiery dissents and attracted a devoted following on the left, earning the nickname Notorious RBG. Ginsburg’s iconic status only grew with age, as she was celebrated for her grit, longevity, and historic role in advancing women’s rights.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a true trailblazer. Not only did she rise to the pinnacle of a male-dominated field, she also built her career fighting the type of gender discrimination she herself had faced.
"Over the course of a lifetime in her pioneering work in behalf of the women of this country, she has compiled a truly historic record of achievement in the finest traditions of American law and citizenship," Clinton said in 1993 when he announced her nomination.
Ginsburg had already made her mark as a crusading attorney, winning five of the six gender discrimination cases she argued before the Supreme Court. She was appointed a federal judge by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
On the Supreme Court, she struck more blows for women’s rights.
She authored the landmark 1996 opinion allowing women into the male-only Virginia Military Institute. One of her dissenting opinions was the impetus for the first piece of legislation signed by President Obama, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.
Born in 1933, Ginsburg attended James Madison High School, whose famous alumni also include Senators Charles Schumer and Bernie Sanders.
At Cornell, she met her husband Martin. They had their first child not long before she enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she was one of just 9 women in a class of more than 500.
Ginsburg’s encounters with discrimination in her early career drove her towards advocacy and she eventually founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU.
During her early years on the bench, Ginsburg developed a reputation as a moderate consensus-builder. She even later developed a close friendship with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
But over time, as she grew more vocal in her dissents, she became a hero of the political left, seen as a bulwark against the court’s conservative wing. The Internet spawned a nickname, the "Notorious RBG," that took hold in pop culture.
She did commit a misstep in 2016 when she bashed then-candidate Trump, calling him a faker, in comments she later said she regretted.
Ginsburg kept up her famously rigorous workout routine, even as she suffered a number of health scares. She endured several bouts with cancer but, undeterred, sometimes participated in arguments from her hospital bed.
Through it all, she was guided by her vision of equality.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg became a legend in her own time, and a legend she’ll remain far beyond.
She was 87.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.