U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the longest-serving member of the court’s liberal minority, died Friday night after a struggle with pancreatic cancer, touching off both tributes and a war of words about filling her seat in a fraught election year.
Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, both Democrats, called her a “giant.”
Warner said history would remember her as a “trailblazer and a voice for liberty and equality.”
Our nation has lost a giant. Thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), for your life of fighting for our most vulnerable and championing true equality for all. History will remember you as a trailblazer and a voice for liberty and equality. #RestInPeace https://t.co/vKFyP38MRS
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) September 19, 2020
Kaine, in a statement, said she left behind a “legal system far fairer than the one she found as one of only nine women in her first-year Harvard Law class.”
Kaine added: “As a litigator, she rid our country of statutes that discriminated against women who were breadwinners and men who were child-rearers. As a justice, her majority opinions opened Virginia’s last all-male public school to women and freed people with disabilities from the isolating confines of institutions. Just as famously, she was uncompromising when the court erred on issues of equality and fundamental rights, penning dissents that sharply defended the Voting Rights Act and women’s access to reproductive health care, all while reminding us ‘you can disagree without being disagreeable.'”
Citing the “Scalia precedent” set by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Kaine urged the Senate to “wait until after the next inauguration before considering a nominee” for the seat. McConnell famously refused to allow a vote on a nominee by Democratic President Barack Obama to fill the seat of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016, also an election year.
Ginsburg’s own wish, from her death bed, was that she not be replaced until there’s a “new president,” according to an NPR report.
“He will do everything he can to ensure that this Supreme Court seat is not filled until then,” a statement from Kaine’s office says.
However, McConnell said President Donald Trump’s nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” which is controlled by Republicans.
The Senate and the nation mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the conclusion of her extraordinary American life.
My full statement: pic.twitter.com/NOwYLhDxIk
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) September 19, 2020
Other Virginia reactions:
Gov. Ralph Northam:
It is with the deepest sadness that Pam and I mourn the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A brilliant legal mind and an unwavering beacon in the fight for equal justice, her loss leaves a tremendous void on the Supreme Court and in our country. May her memory be a blessing.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) September 19, 2020
Attorney General Mark Herring:
Rest In Peace, Justice Ginsburg. Her courage, moral clarity, and incisive analysis will be so badly missed. I’m thankful for her incredible, trailblazing career, and I know I join millions of Americans in wishing peace and comfort to her family during this terribly sad time. https://t.co/JZTFNzBHyS
— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) September 18, 2020
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax:
Justice Ginsburg’s extraordinary courage illuminates every other facet of her brilliant life well-lived.
That courage also lights a path forward for our nation.
— Justin Fairfax (@LGJustinFairfax) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Don McEachin, D-Richmond:
— Rep. Donald McEachin (@RepMcEachin) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Ben Cline, R-Botetourt:
Elizabeth and I are praying for the family of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the news of her passing earlier today. May she Rest In Peace.
— Congressman Ben Cline (@RepBenCline) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Henrico
Justice Ginsburg devoted her life to defending the integrity of our Constitution & ensuring that we as a people move closer to realizing its true intent — equal justice & protections for all.
She was a courageous voice and a role model for all generations of Americans.
— Rep. Abigail Spanberger (@RepSpanberger) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Montross:
I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Justice Ginsburg. Her legacy will forever be remembered as a public servant, devoting her life to justice. Dedication to the defense of the Constitution is a virtue that knows no single party. Read my full statement on her passing: pic.twitter.com/eUJtlCLw9B
— Rep. Rob Wittman (@RobWittman) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Leesburg:
As a woman who studied and practiced law, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a "shero".
Words cannot truly do justice for this loss that so many of us feel so personally.
Rest in power, RBG. pic.twitter.com/wKUQD8iJPv
— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, R-Salem:
I am sorry to learn of the death of Justice Ginsburg. Her service as only the second woman on the Supreme Court was the capstone of a long and notable legal career.
— Morgan Griffith (@RepMGriffith) September 18, 2020
U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Norfolk:
It is with a heavy heart that I offer my condolences to the family of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and my deepest sympathies to all who knew, loved, and admired her. (1/2)
— Rep. Elaine Luria (@RepElaineLuria) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Newport News:
We owe Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a debt of gratitude for her life and legacy, a true champion for justice.https://t.co/B5brB3CRlL
— Rep. Bobby Scott (@BobbyScott) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Nelson:
Ruth Bader Ginsburg's place in history can never be disputed. As the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, she gave her life to public service and showed the way for women like my daughters. I offer my prayers for her family. RIP https://t.co/xqnU3hotaw
— Congressman Denver Riggleman (@RepRiggleman) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Alexandria:
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a warrior for justice, a shield for the oppressed, and a titan of American jurisprudence on the United States Supreme Court.
We’ll not see her like again.
May her memory be a blessing to her loved ones, and to a grateful, grieving nation.
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) September 19, 2020
U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Fairfax:
Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an advocate for fairness and equality. An incredible intellectual.
Her legacy demands we follow the McConnell rule. This seat must remain vacant until this election.
— Rep. Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) September 18, 2020