Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Trump urges Senate to fix replacement 'without delay'

19 September 2020, 17:50 | Updated: 19 September 2020, 19:21

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died aged 87 on Friday
Ruth Bader Ginsburg died aged 87 on Friday. Picture: AP

By Ewan Somerville

Donald Trump has urged the Republican-controlled Senate to consider “without delay” his upcoming nomination to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ms Ginsburg died at home on Friday aged 87 of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said.

The political and legal titan was one of only four liberals out of nine justices in the court, whose positions are highly politically charged - opening up a high-stakes clash less than two months before the November 3 presidential election. 

If the Republicans manage to push through their choice, the balance of the court on the most crucial issues of US law will shift decisively towards the conservatives. 

“We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us,” Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday, “the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. 

“We have this obligation, without delay!”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Friday night, hours after Ms Ginsburg’s death, to call a vote on whomever Mr Trump nominated. 

But Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden insisted any vote should come after polling day. “Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider,” Mr Biden said.

While a fiery political debate raged only hours after Ms Ginsburg’s death, tributes flooded in to mourn the loss of the towering women’s rights champion. 

In an emotional tribute, Mr Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama said: “Over a long career on both sides of the bench – as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist – justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are – and who we can be.”

Read more: David Lammy's moving tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Read more: US Supreme Court justice and towering women's rights champion dies

Many left tributes outside the US Supreme Court
Many left tributes outside the US Supreme Court. Picture: AP

US chief justice John Roberts also mourned Ms Ginsburg’s passing, saying: “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature.

“We at the supreme court have lost a cherished colleague. 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.”

Meanwhile, Meghan Markle led the dozens of celebrity tributes. The duchess said: “With an incomparable and indelible legacy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will forever be known as a woman of brilliance, a justice of courage, and a human of deep conviction.

“She has been a true inspiration to me since I was a girl. Honour her, remember her, act for her.”

Writing on Instagram, Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks said her death left her feeling “very much like I felt on the night my own mother died”.

She added: “I feel like someone punched me in the stomach. My tears have not stopped since a friend tip-toed into my room and said, ‘Stevie, Ruth died’.”

Ms Ginsburg announced in July that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lesions on her liver, the latest of several battles with cancer which began in 1999. 

She spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of an icon to her admirers.

Her appointment by then-president Bill Clinton in 1993 was the first by a Democrat in 26 years. 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.