The death of Justice Ginsburg, the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, has injected new uncertainty into the presidential election and sets off political maneuvering.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, has signaled that he would backtrack from his vow in 2016 that Supreme Court vacancies should not be filled during a presidential election year and would indeed be willing to move a nominee before the election.
âI surely would not be in this room today without the determined efforts of men and women who kept dreams alive, dreams of equal citizenship.â Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the Supreme Courtâs feminist icon. Small, soft-spoken, yet fiercely determined, she was an unstoppable force who transformed the law and defied social conventions. âTo her fans sheâs known as Notorious R.B.G.â Singing: âSupreme Courtâs a boys club. She holds it down, no cares given. Who else got six movies about âem and still livinâ?â Ginsburg was hailed as a crusader for womenâs rights. Chanting: âD-I-S-S-E-N-T. Weâre Notorious R.B.G.!â But her legal legacy was even more sweeping. âThe project she brought to the Supreme Court first as the leading womenâs rights lawyer of her day, and then as a justice for all those years, I actually think has been kind of misunderstood. She had a really radical project to erase the functional difference between men and women in society. She wanted to make it clear that there should be no such thing as womenâs work and menâs work.â âMr. Chief Justice, and may it please the court.â In fact, in many of the landmark cases Ginsburg argued before the Supreme Court as a young lawyer for the A.C.L.U., her clients were often men. One key case involved a man from New Jersey, whose wife died during childbirth. âStephen Wiesenfeldâs case concerns the entitlement ââ He wanted to work less and stay home with his son, but found out only widows, not widowers, were eligible for Social Security payments. âRuth Ginsburg went to court on his behalf and said that law, that distinction between mothers and fathers incorporates a stereotyped assumption of what women do and what men do in the family, and is unconstitutional.â âLaws of this quality help to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.â âShe won. And that was the kind of case that she brought. And it was really very significant in the march toward the court establishing a jurisprudence of sex equality.â What inspired Ginsburg to take on such a bold project, and there was little sign of anything radical in the beginning. âRuth Bader Ginsburg grew up in Brooklyn in a lower middle-class family. When she was in high school, she was a twirler. You know, a cheerleader with a baton. She was known as Kiki Bader. And she played a very traditional female role in her high school.â Ginsburgâs mother, whoâd been a star student until she was forced to drop out of school to put her brother through college, had big ambitions for her daughter. But the day before Ruthâs high school graduation, her mother died of cancer. It was that shattering loss, Ginsburg said many years later, that instilled in her the determination to live a life her mother could have only dreamed about. âI pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve, and daughters are cherished as much as sons.â The other pivotal turn in Ginsburgâs path came during college. She earned a scholarship to Cornell, where she met a jovial sophomore who became the love of her life. âHe was the first boy I ever knew who cared that I had a brain.â Theirs was not a typical 1950s marriage, but an equal partnership. âHer husband, Marty, was a fabulous cook, and she was a terrible cook. And Marty did all the cooking.â âIn the historic Harvard Yard, you will see your classmates, men from every section of the country.â A year after Marty enrolled at Harvard Law School, Ruth followed, one of only nine women in a class of more than 550, with a new baby girl in tow. âDuring their time in law school, Marty became very sick. He had cancer. And she basically took all the notes for him and made it possible for him to graduate on time, while in fact, raising their baby and being a law student herself. Marty recovered and their relationship was very central to her work and her understanding of how it was possible to organize society.â This understanding turned into a mission after law school, when Ginsburg took on a legal study in Sweden where feminism was on the rise. âSweden, where everything and everyone works.â Swedish women werenât choosing between careers and family, and they inspired the young lawyer. When Ginsburg returned to the U.S., she launched what would become her radical project. As a law professor and leader of the A.C.L.U. Womenâs Rights Project, she took on groundbreaking cases to build constitutional protections against gender discrimination. There was a lot of speculation about why a lawyer hailed as a Thurgood Marshall of womenâs rights was representing so many men. âPeople looking back on that had thought, well, she was kind of trying to sweet talk the court. She was trying to give the court cases and plaintiffs that wouldnât get those nine old guys very upset and kind of, you know, sneak in a doctrine of sex discrimination. And actually, thatâs not accurate. She happened to have male clients because they were making claims that were traditionally, were womenâs claims. And she wanted to just shake up the preconceived notions when it came to raising families and providing for them and working in the economy. Everybody should be on equal footing.â The legal crusade quickly unleashed profound changes in the law and daily life, but Ginsburgâs own rise to the federal bench took decades, and a lot of lobbying by her husband, a prominent tax attorney, with key old boys club connections. After getting passed over three times, President Carter nominated Ginsburg to be a federal judge in 1980. âThe framers had in mind as the way to protect individual rights and liberty.â People were surprised that the A.C.L.U. activist turned out to be a very moderate judge, a centrist who often sided with conservatives, praised judicial restraint, and slammed Roe v. Wade for going too far, too fast. âI am proud to nominate for associate justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.â Some feminist leaders were concerned when President Clinton tapped Ginsburg for the High Court. âShe will be able to be a force for consensus building on the Supreme Court.â But Justice Ginsburg quickly pleased supporters and skeptics alike with her opinions in landmark cases, like the Virginia Military Academy. âMay it please the court. V.M.I., the Virginia Military Institute, was established by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1839.â âV.M.I. was age-old military academy run by the state of Virginia, was men only.â âStand! Attention!â âIt emphasizes competition. It emphasizes standing up to stress. It emphasizes the development of strong character in the face of adversity.â âThe question was, did it violate the Constitution to bar women from this school that was entre into the political establishment of the state of Virginia.â Justice Ginsburg believed that omitting women was a constitutional violation. And she ultimately convinced all but one justice, Scalia, to take her position. âThe opinion of the court in two cases, the United States against Virginia, will be announced by Justice Ginsburg.â âState actors may not close entrance gates based on fixed notions concerning the roles and abilities of males and females.â âWomen will now be walking on the campus of the Virginia Military Institute.â âI think she would say it was the case she was happiest about in her tenure on the court.â âV.M.I. superintendent promises that female cadets will be treated the same as male cadets.â âShe used an analysis that increased the level of scrutiny that courts in the future have to give to claims of sex discrimination. I think she found that an extremely satisfying outcome.â Ginsburgâs opinions helped solidify the constitutional protections sheâd fought so hard to establish decades earlier. And her grit helped keep her on the bench through colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and the death of her beloved partner. âJustice Ginsburg, even though her husband died yesterday after a battle with cancer, was on the bench.â Ginsburg battled on through it all, unrelentingly tough, but still a consensus builder. She famously forged friendships with right-leaning justices, including Justice Scalia. âYou know, whatâs not to like? Except her views of the law, of course.â [laughter] Their shared love for opera actually inspired a composer to write a new one, about them. Singing: âWe are different, we are one.â âDo you like how you were portrayed in the opera?â âOh, yes. Especially in the scene where I rescue Justice Scalia, who is locked in a dark room for excessive dissenting.â [laughter] But in her later years, as the court moved to the right, Ginsburg grew bolder in her dissents. âShe was not in a position to control the outcome of events. But she was in a position to stake her claim for what the outcome should have been. And she was very strategic and very powerful in using that opportunity.â The opportunity that made her into a rock star came in 2013, when the court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act. âGinsburg wrote a lengthy, scathing dissent.â âShe was pretty candid in her displeasure with the courtâs decision.â âHubris, pride, is a fit word for todayâs demolition of the Voting Rights Act.â Ginsburgâs fiery dissent inspired law students to lay her words to a beat and turn the 80-year-old justice into the Notorious R.B.G. Singing: âNow Iâm in the limelight, because I decide right, court has moved right, but my dissents get cites.â Suddenly, Ginsburg went viral. Childrenâs books to bumper stickers. Halloween costumes to a Hollywood biopic. âWhat did you say your name was?â âRuth Bader Ginsburg.â Even her fitness trainer was a sensation. âJustice is blind, but you know man meat when you see it.â When asked about retirement plans, Ginsburg balked. âThere was a senator who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months. That senator, whose name Iâve forgotten, is now himself dead.â [laughter] Ginsburgâs stardom only grew after she criticized then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race. âGinsburg said, âI canât imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president.ââ Ginsburg apologized for her remarks, but instead of retreating, she was emboldened. âAs a great man once said, that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle, it is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back.â Notorious R.G.B. became a badge of the Trump resistance, and keeping her on the bench became part of the cause. âHealth scare for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.â âNews tonight about the health scare for Supreme Court Justice ââ âRuth Bader Ginsburg, she was hospitalized.â âAnd those ribs you busted?â âAlmost repaired.â After all the spills, surgeries and bouts with cancer, what was it that kept her going? Ginsburg said it was her job on the bench, which she still found exhilarating. But perhaps most of all, it was her radical project, which Ginsburg said was still far from complete. âPeople ask me, âWhen will you be satisfied with the number of women on the court?â When they are nine.â
Saturday began in a sunny, stunned Washington with the lowering of flags to half-staff over federal buildings in commemoration of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
It was a traditional gesture that nonetheless underscored the so far subdued, grave and careful tone being set by President Trump, who has often flouted the decorous norms of national mourning. Mr. Trumpâs team sees a potential battle over courts as an opportunity to jump start a stumbling campaign, but they are urging him to do it in a way that does not alienate voters, especially women, Republican aides said.
Mr. Trump, who rolled out a list of possible Supreme Court picks last week, seized the political initiative early Saturday, issuing a thinly veiled warning to any Republicans thinking about delaying a vote until after the election.
Three big questions loom: Who will be Mr. Trumpâs pick to replace Justice Ginsburg? Will Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine stop Mr. McConnell from quickly forcing a vote? How will voters respond?
The capital was consumed with worry, maneuvering and mourning. Hundreds gathered outside the Supreme Court on Friday night â it was, coincidentally, Rosh Hashana, the start of the Jewish New Year â to celebrate the life and legacy of the second woman, and first Jewish woman, to serve on the nationâs highest court.
At one point a mourner recited the Kaddish, the tuneless prayer of remembrance written in ancient Aramaic. It echoed off the marble facade of the court, just across the street from the illuminated Capitol dome where the fight over Justice Ginsburgâs replacement will soon commence.
Senate Democrats are expected to hold a conference call at 1 p.m. Eastern to discuss the next steps, according to an aide familiar with the plans. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said any attempt to fill the vacancy on the court would amount to âthe height of hypocrisy,â given that Republicans blocked Merrick Garlandâs nomination from advancing more than 200 days before the election in 2016.
âIt has been reported that Justice Ginsburgâs wish was that the winner of the upcoming election nominate her successor,â Ms. Feinstein said in a statement. âWe should all honor that wish and wait until after the presidential inauguration to take action.â
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, vowed Friday night to hold a vote on Mr. Trumpâs replacement for Justice Ginsburg, and in a letter to his conference he urged Republicans to âkeep their powder dry.â
âThis is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret,â Mr. McConnell wrote in the letter, first reported by The Washington Post and confirmed by The New York Times.
Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, signaled that he would backtrack from his vow in 2016 that Supreme Court vacancies should not be filled during a presidential election year and would indeed be willing to move a nominee before the election.
âI want you to use my words against me,â Mr. Graham said in 2016. âIf thereâs a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, âLetâs let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.ââ
But on Saturday Mr. Graham, now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and in position to oversee any judicial confirmation, pointed to remarks he made earlier this year, in which he told reporters that âafter Kavanaugh, the rules have changed, as far as Iâm concerned.â
Mr. McConnell said late Friday that he would move forward with Mr. Trumpâs nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.
âAmericans re-elected 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,â Mr. McConnell said in a statement. âOnce again, we will keep our promise. President Trumpâs nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.â
He was notably unclear, however, about the timing, whether he would push for such a vote before the election or wait until a lame-duck session afterward. Several of his members face tough election contests and might balk at appearing to rush a nominee through in such highly political conditions.
The more moderate Republican Senators are a small group, and it is not clear whether they could control enough votes to block Mr. Trumpâs nominee. Republicans have 53 votes in the Senate to the Democratsâ 47, and Vice President Mike Pence is allowed to break any ties.
Among the Republican members who hold the crucial votes are Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah.
Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine, the most endangered Republican incumbent, told The New York Times this month that she would not favor voting on a new justice in October. âI think thatâs too close, I really do,â she said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska told Alaska Public Media, during an interview Friday shortly before the announcement of Justice Ginsburgâs death, that she opposed confirming a new justice before the election. âI would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee,â she said. âWe are 50 some days away from an election.â
There was immediate reaction from a few Republican senators calling for a quick confirmation and vote before Election Day.
Senators Martha McSally of Arizona and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, two other Republican senators facing a tough re-election, each posted statements to Twitter calling for the Senate to vote on Justice Ginsburgâs replacement.
Still, stunned Republicans expressed initial skepticism on Friday night that Mr. McConnell would find enough votes to confirm a new justice in the weeks before the election. And some of them thought Mr. McConnell would also be unable to do so in a lame-duck session if Republicans lose the White House and control of the Senate.
Privately, some party strategists warned that if Democrats won the presidency and the Senate and Republicans seated a new justice before Joseph R. Biden Jr. and the new Senators were sworn in, Democrats would exact retribution by ending the filibuster and moving to pack the Supreme Court.
Democrats, for their part, moved swiftly to warn Republicans against a hasty confirmation process â echoing Mr. McConnellâs own comments from 2016.
Two days before Justice Ginsburgâs death on Friday, the Supreme Court announced that it would again hear arguments by telephone when the justices return from their summer break on Oct. 5.
âThe court building remains open for official business only and closed to the public until further notice,â a spokeswoman, Kathleen Arberg, said in a news release.
It has been more than six months since the justices met in person. The court had postponed arguments scheduled for March and April in light of the coronavirus pandemic. In May, it embarked on an experiment, hearing arguments by telephone and letting the public listen in.
There were bumps along the way: the stilted quality of the questioning, with the justices speaking in order of seniority; questions about whether Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. acted fairly as a timekeeper; the sound of a flushing toilet.
But the arguments were generally viewed as a success. One unexpected development was vigorous questioning from Justice Clarence Thomas, who is ordinarily silent when the court hears cases in person. The telephone arguments also allowed Justice Ginsburg to participate from the hospital, where she was undergoing a gallbladder procedure.
On Wednesday, Ms. Arberg announced that the court would hear five more days of arguments by telephone.
Her statement said that the situation remained fluid. âThe court will continue to closely monitor public health guidance in determining plans for the November and December argument sessions.â
The justices last appeared on the Supreme Court bench on March 4, when they heard arguments in an abortion case from Louisiana. In June, the court struck down the law at issue in the case, with Chief Justice Roberts voting with the courtâs four-member liberal wing. Without Justice Ginsburgâs vote, the case would have ended in a tie, which would have left the law intact.
The arguments in October will explore cases on gay rights and foster care, a $9 billion copyright dispute between Google and Oracle, whether Delaware can take account of its judgesâ partisan affiliations, police violence and abuses of the no-fly list.
The cases will be heard by an eight-member court, leaving open the possibility of a deadlocked court. In such cases, the lower courtâs ruling stands.
Scores of people filled the steps leading up to the Supreme Court in Washington on Friday night, crowding the plaza outside and spilling across the street in a candlelight tribute to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that gave way to smaller remembrances Saturday morning.
âShe was an inspiration to so many, so many people. And she fought through this illness and sheâs my hero.â âShe was the moral beacon when America felt lost. And I firmly believe that we would not be where we are today without her. âRuth Bader Ginsburg, she served our country spectacularly and, just in shock that sheâs gone.â âShe led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.â âTonight, and in the coming days, we should focus on the loss of the justice and her enduring legacy. But there is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider.â
âWe, as citizens, have a responsibility to mourn her, and stand together and show that we care about human life, which is something I think weâve lost in the last six months,â said David Means, who was quietly discussing the justiceâs legacy in the courtâs plaza. âWe need to be here â this is the place to be for anyone who believes in American ideals and progress in this country.â
Mourners began arriving at the court after dusk. At first, those gathered were so quiet that splashes from nearby fountains were audible across the plaza. But soon crowds swelled, filling the courthouse stairs, some singing âAmazing Graceâ or reciting the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, others clashing with conservative demonstrators.
In addition to the tributes outside the Supreme Court, left, mourners also honored Justice Ginsburg with displays in her native New York City, right.
On Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that a commission would be formed to select an artist to create a statue of Justice Ginsburg to be erected in Brooklyn, where she was born.
âThis statue will serve as a physical reminder of her many contributions to the America we know today,â he said in a statement.
The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg resonated deeply with American Jews, many of whom learned that she had died just as they were gathering to celebrate Rosh Hashana, one of the holiest days of the Jewish calendar.
Many said her death lent an air of mourning and concern for the future to a holiday that inaugurates the beginning of the Jewish New Year and elevated themes of renewal, sweetness and repentance.
âRBGâs death casts a giant shadow but her life will illumine the path ahead,â Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, wrote on Twitter. âOur tradition teaches that the biblical Ruth spawns generations that will lead to redemption. And so it must be for us.â
Rabbi Joel Simonds, founding executive director of the Jewish Center for Justice in Los Angeles, said he learned of Justice Ginsburgâs death two hours before he was to lead online services.
âEverything she stood for is deeply connected to our Jewish values,â Rabbi Simonds said in an interview. âStanding up for others, being the dissenting opinion when you know that goodness and justice and right are on your side.â
Her death, on the last day of the Jewish year, is powerfully symbolic, said Cindy Rowe, executive director of the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action in Boston.
âThe fact that God waited until the very last day to take their life away means that that person was so righteous and so holy that God wanted to hold on to that person for as long as possible,â she said. âThis was such a moment of holiness that it was the last moment she was taken from us.â
Soon after her death was announced, opera singers around the world posted tributes and backstage photos of Justice Ginsburg, who adored the opera so much she attended multiple performances of the same production and even dress rehearsals.
Justice Ginsburg saw her first opera â a condensed version of âLa Giocondaâ â when she was 11 and quickly became an aficionado. Her close friendship with conservative Justice Antonin Scalia was based in no small part on their shared love of opera.
âMost of the time, even when I go to sleep, Iâm thinking about legal problems,â Justice Ginsburg said in 2015. âBut when I go to the opera, Iâm just lost in it.â
Francesca Zambello, the director of Washington National Opera and the Glimmerglass Festival, recalled how the audience would cheer when they saw Justice Ginsburg come down the aisle.
âShe was our greatest advocate and our greatest spokesperson,â Ms. Zambello said in an interview with Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times music editor. âShe carried this art form.â
In November 2016, she appeared onstage as the Duchess of Krakenthorp during the Washington National Operaâs production of Gaetano Donizettiâs âThe Daughter of the Regiment.â
Ms. Zambello said Justice Ginsburg was particularly enamored by the character, BrÃ¼nnhilde, who sacrifices herself at the end of Wagnerâs âGÃ¶tterdÃ¤mmerung.â
âWe had a lot of conversations about BrÃ¼nnhilde, and why it took a woman to save the world,â she said. âThatâs what she said: Only a woman could do it; only a woman could change the course of history. She did always love pieces where the woman was the protagonist.â
We learned of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is not only a giant in the legal profession but a beloved figure. And my heart goes out to all those who cared for her and care about her. Her opinions and her dissent are going to continue to shape the basis for law for a generation. You know, tonight, and in the coming days, we should focus on the loss of the justice and her enduring legacy. But there is no doubt, let me be clear, that 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 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. Thatâs the position the United States Senate must take today. And the election is only 46 days off. I think the fastest justice ever confirmed was 47 days, and the average is closer to 70 days. And so they should do this with full consideration, and that is my hope and expectation what will happen.
The death of Justice Ginsburg instantly upended the nationâs politics in the middle of an already bitter campaign, giving President Trump an opportunity to try to install a third member of the Supreme Court with just weeks before an election that polls show he is currently losing.
It also bolstered Mr. Trumpâs effort to shift the subject away from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and remind Republicans why it matters whether he wins, while also potentially galvanizing Democrats who fear a change in the balance of power on the Supreme Court.
Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger, said the Supreme Court vacancy should not be filled until after the presidential election.
âThere is no doubt â let me be clear â that the voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,â he told reporters after landing at New Castle Airport in Delaware following a campaign trip to Minnesota.
The statement by Mr. Biden, who had previously promised to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, immediately put him at odds with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, who said a nominee by President Trump âwill receive a voteâ in the Senate.
If Mr. Trump is able to replace Justice Ginsburg, a liberal icon, it could cement a conservative majority for years to come, giving Republican appointees six of the nine seats.
No one understood the broader political consequences of her death better than Justice Ginsburg, who battled through one ailment after another in hopes of hanging onto her seat until after the election. Just days before her death, NPR reported, she dictated this statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera: âMy most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.â
She just died? Wow. I didnât know that. I just âÂ youâre telling me now for the first time. She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. Iâm actually saddened to hear that. I am saddened to hear that. Thank you very much. [Song on loudspeaker: âTiny Dancerâ]
President Trump, who counts his two Supreme Court appointments as among his greatest successes, last week issued a new list of 20 potential nominees to the court. There was no vacancy at the time, and the exercise seemed aimed at focusing attention on an issue that had helped secure his election in 2016.
With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, the list has become the subject of intense interest.
In 2016, similar lists helped persuade wary conservatives to support his unconventional candidacy, particularly because the death of Justice Antonin Scalia that February had created a vacancy. That the new list, which included three senators and two former solicitors general, was issued when there was no vacancy suggested that the move had political aims.
Mr. Trump now has about 40 potential nominees to choose among. Before listing the new candidates last week, he singled out three judges from earlier lists who are widely believed to remain front-runners: Amy Coney Barrett of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago; Thomas M. Hardiman of the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia; and William H. Pryor Jr. of the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta.
The new list included three Republican senators: Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri. Over the nationâs history, it was not unusual for sitting senators to be named to the Supreme Court, though it has been almost half a century since a former senator sat on the court.
The new list included lawyers who had worked at the White House and in the Justice Department, notably Noel J. Francisco, who recently stepped down as solicitor general, having defended many of Mr. Trumpâs policies and programs before the justices, as well as a number of federal appeals court judges.
All of his candidates, Mr. Trump said, were judicial conservatives in the mold of Justice Scalia and two current members of the court, Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr.
Mr. Trump called Justice Ginsburg a âtitan of the lawâ and a âfighter to the endâ in a statement issued hours after her death on Friday.
âToday, our nation mourns the loss of a titan of the law,â Mr. Trump said in the statement, which was posted on his Twitter account late on Friday evening.
âRenowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward oneâs colleagues or different points of view,â Mr. Trump said. âHer opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds.â
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgâs death on Friday revived talk of an idea that has been bandied about for years but, until recently, not feasibly considered by people in a position to enact it: court packing.
The term is commonly associated with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who pushed legislation in 1937 that could have expanded the Supreme Court from nine to as many as 15 justices.
More than eight decades later, the idea of expanding the court is back. Mr. McConnellâs refusal to hold a Senate vote on Merrick Garland, who was nominated to the court in 2016 by President Barack Obama after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, led some Democrats, including the presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, to suggest expanding the court. They argued that Republicans had âstolenâ a seat that should have been filled by Mr. Obama, and that Democrats would be justified in adding seats to shift the ideological balance back.
Republicans have called the idea radical and undemocratic, and some Democrats have feared that it could backfire. Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, rejected the idea last year, telling Iowa Starting Line, âNo, Iâm not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because weâll live to rue that day.â
Mr. McConnellâs declaration on Friday that the Senate would vote on Mr. Trumpâs nominee to replace Justice Ginsburg added fuel to the fire, with progressive activists and at least one senator calling publicly for court packing.
âMitch McConnell set the precedent,â Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, tweeted on Friday night. âNo Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.â
Former President Barack Obama on Friday called Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg âa warrior for gender equalityâ who helped Americans see the perils of gender discrimination.
As a litigator and later a jurist, âJustice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isnât about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesnât only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us,â Mr. Obama said in a statement issued just before midnight and later published on Medium. âItâs about who we are â and who we can be.â
Mr. Obama said Justice Ginsburg had âinspired the generations who followed her, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land.â The first group was an apparent reference to children who dressed up in âR.B.G.â costumes for Halloween.
Mr. Obama also weighed in on the contentious issue of when Justice Ginsburgâs successor should be nominated to the Supreme Court.
âA basic principle of the law â and of everyday fairness â is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on whatâs convenient or advantageous in the moment,â Mr. Obama, whose own nominee for the court, Judge Merrick B. Garland, was blocked by Senate Republicans, said in the statement.
âThe rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle,â Mr. Obama added. âAs votes are already being cast in this election, Republican senators are now called to apply that standard.â
Former President Bill Clinton, who nominated Justice Ginsburg to the Supreme Court in 1993, praised her on Friday as âone of the most extraordinary justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court.â
âRuth Bader Ginsburgâs life and landmark opinions moved us closer to a more perfect union,â Mr. Clinton wrote on Twitter. âAnd her powerful dissents reminded us that we walk away from our Constitutionâs promise at our peril.â
During Mr. Obamaâs second term, Justice Ginsburg shrugged off a chorus of calls for her to retire in order to give a Democratic president the chance to name her replacement.
She planned to stay âas long as I can do the job full steam,â she would say, sometimes adding, âThere will be a president after this one, and Iâm hopeful that that president will be a fine president.â
Reporting was contributed by Maggie Astor, Peter Baker, Reid J. Epstein, Jacey Fortin, Maggie Haberman, Carl Hulse, Mike Ives, Thomas Kaplan, Adam Liptak, Jonathan Martin, Benjamin Mueller, Zachary Montague and Glenn Thrush.
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