Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away today at the age of 87 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. She was chosen by Bill Clinton in 1993 to fill the seat being vacated by Justice Byron White. Her addition brought the number of women on the Supreme Court to two as she joined Sandra Day O’Connor, and simultaneously added a Jewish voice to the Court.
Ginsburg had an unusually sharp legal mind, and was known to be a close friend of deceased Justice Antonin Scalia despite firm ideological differences. She followed in O’Connor’s footsteps in advocating for the the use of foreign legal decisions as guidance for determining world standards, which alongside her political views led to her becoming a focus of enmity for many Republican groups. This, in turn, helped her to become an icon of the American left, particularly the youth; she watched as a cottage industry grew around her name and likeness, with Ginsburg dolls, magnets, shirts, and even a documentary film (“RBG”) produced.
Her first bout with cancer was in 1999, when her doctors found and treated colon cancer. That was followed by the discovery of pancreatic cancer in 2009, lung nodules in 2018, another pancreatic tumor in 2019, and yet another recurrence of pancreatic cancer in 2020.
Due to the timing of her death so close to a contentious Presidential election, there is likely to be considerable speculation and public pronouncements on any replacement for her seat.