Supreme Court Justices mourn the death but praise the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2018, file photo, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather for a formal group portrait to include the new Associate Justice, top row, far right, at the Supreme Court building in Washington. Seated from left: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. Standing behind from left: Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Elena Kagan and Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. It’s the time of the year when Supreme Court justices can get testy, but they might have to find a new way to show it. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather for a formal group portrait on Nov. 30, 2018. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg's colleagues on the US Supreme Court on Saturday released statements about her death and legacy.
  • Ginsburg, who spent 27 years as an associate justice on the Supreme Court, died on Friday at the age of 87 due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. 
  • Ginsburg was mourned by and received praise from all of her fellow justices, which included Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Anthony Kennedy. 
  • Chief Justice John Roberts said the court had "lost a cherished colleague," while the Trump-appointed Brett Kavanaugh said she "paved the way for women to become lawyers and judges."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The colleagues of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday mourned the loss of the longtime associate justice in statements released by the court

Ginsburg died on Friday at the age of 87 following a battle with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Her death has ignited a political firestorm over whether a successor should be nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate before the November 3 election.  

All of Ginsburg's colleagues on the court, including Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Anthony Kennedy, released statements through the court reacting to her death and honoring her legacy.

Chief Justice John Roberts said the nation had "lost a jurist of historic stature"

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague," Robert said. "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."

Justice Clarence Thomas said Ginsburg was the "essence of grace, civility and dignity"

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas addresses the Federalist Society in Washington, in 2007.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas addresses the Federalist Society in Washington, in 2007.

"My wife, Virginia, and I are heartbroken to learn of the passing of our friend, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Ruth and I first met when I began my tenure on the D.C. Circuit in 1990," Thomas wrote. "With the exception of the brief period between our respective appointments to the Supreme Court, we have since been judicial colleagues."

He continued: "Through the many challenges both professionally and personally, she was the essence of grace, civility and dignity. She was a superb judge who gave her best and exacted the best from each of us, whether in agreement or disagreement. And, as outstanding as she was as a judge, she was an even better colleague – unfailingly gracious, thoughtful, and civil."

Justice Stephen Breyer said he learned of Ginsburg's passing while he "was reciting the Mourner's Kaddish at the Rosh Hashanah service" 

United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.
United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

"I thought:

a great Justice;
a woman of valour;
a rock of righteousness;
and my good, good friend.

The world is a better place for her having lived in it.

And so is her family;
her friends;
the legal community;
and the nation," Breyer wrote.

Justice Samuel Alito said she would be remembered as a "leading figure in the history of the Court"

Ginsburg-2
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"Martha-Ann and I were deeply saddened by the news that Justice Ginsburg has passed away," Alito said. "Ruth and Marty made us feel at home immediately when I joined the Court, and we will certainly miss her. Justice Ginsburg will go down as a leading figure in the history of the Court. She will be remembered for her intelligence, learning, and remarkable fortitude. She has been and will continue to be an inspiration for many."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor said her late colleague was a "pathbreaking champion of women's rights"

Sotomayor, Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, left, holds up her hands as she and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor arrive to applause for a panel discussion celebrating Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to be a Supreme Court Justice, Wednesday Sept. 25, 2019, at the Library of Congress in Washington.

"My dear friend and colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an American hero," Sotomayor said. "She spent her life fighting for the equality of all people, and she was a pathbreaking champion of women's rights. She served our Court and country with consummate dedication, tirelessness, and passion for justice. She has left a legacy few could rival."

"I will miss Ruth greatly," she continued. "She welcomed me to the Court with a warmth I could not have expected, and I came to feel a special kinship with her. She was someone whose wisdom, kindness, and unwavering support I could always rely on. I will forever cherish the moments we shared."

Justice Elena Kagan called Ginsburg a "hero"

capitol subway car
U.S. Solicitor General and Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan (C) steps off a Capitol Hill Senate Subway car between meetings with Senators on Capitol Hill in Washington May 12, 2010.

"To me, as to countless others, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a hero. As an attorney, she led the fight to grant women equal rights under the law," Kagan wrote. "As a judge, she did justice every day--working to ensure that this country's legal system lives up to its ideals and extends its rights and protections to those once excluded. And in both roles, she held to--indeed, exceeded--the highest standards of legal craft." 

"Her work was as careful as it was creative, as disciplined as it was visionary," Kagan added. "It will endure for as long as Americans retain their commitment to law."

Kagan went on to say Ginsburg helped her career "long before I came to the Supreme Court."

"She guided and inspired me, on matters large and small, once I became her colleague," Kagan continued. "I will miss her -- her intellect, her generosity, her sly wit, her manifest integrity, and her endless capacity for work--for the rest of my life."

Justice Neil Gorsuch said he lost a 'cherished colleague and friend'

neil gorsuch
In this Sept. 4, 2019 file photo, Justice Neil Gorsuch, speaks during an interview in his chambers at the Supreme Court in Washington.

"Louise and I have lost a cherished colleague and friend," he wrote. "For forty years, Ruth served the American people as one of our most distinguished judges. Her sacrifices for the country were many, but always performed with honor."

"We are blessed by the happy memories that will remain, like traveling with Ruth to London where (to her delight) an uninformed guide kept calling her 'Ruthie,' or all the opera she tried so valiantly to teach me, or her sweet tooth at lunch, or the touching stories of her remarkable life with Marty," Gorsuch added. "We will miss Ruth and our hearts go out to her family. May she rest in peace."

Justice Brett Kavanaugh said Ginsburg made it possible for his 'daughters to compete on equal footing as student-athletes'

FILE PHOTO: White House Counsel Don McGahn listens to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., September 27, 2018. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: White House Counsel Don McGahn listens to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as he testifies before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington

"Ashley, Margaret, Liza, and I are profoundly saddened by the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and we extend our prayers and deepest condolences to her family and to her four decades of law clerks," Kavanaugh wrote. "No American has ever done more than Justice Ginsburg to ensure equal justice under law for women. She was a cherished colleague, and she inspired me, and all of us, with her unparalleled work ethic and devotion to the law."

"She made it possible for women and girls like my daughters to compete on equal footing as student-athletes," Gorsuch said. "When Justice Ginsburg was last in my office earlier this year, I pointed out a photo I keep of her standing with four women who served as law clerks in my chambers in my first term. As long as I am fortunate enough to serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep that photo prominently in my office as a continuing tribute to Justice Ginsburg and as a daily reminder to work hard and pursue equal justice. May God bless Ruth Bader Ginsburg."

Kavanaugh referred to Ginsburg as a "meticulous and pathmarking judge."

"Justice Ginsburg paved the way for women to become lawyers and judges," he wrote.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said she will "have an esteemed piece in the history of our Court"

ruth bader ginsburg
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg is cheered as she arrives before President Barack Obama addresses a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, in the House of Representatives Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.

"The members of the Court always will cherish all that Justice Ginsburg meant to us as a distinguished jurist and an inspiring, wonderful person," Kennedy said. "She will have an esteemed piece in the history of our Court. Ruth was a close, dear friend. Mary joins me in sending our deepest sympathies to her family."

He continued: "In our court sessions and conferences Ruth was remarkably well prepared for every case, down to the smallest detail. If the two of us disagreed, it was always in a civil, principled, respectful way.

"By her learning she taught devotion to the law. By her dignity she taught respect for others and her love for America. By her reverence for the Constitution, she taught us to preserve it to secure our freedom."

Read their entire statements here >>

 

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