“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,” Obama wrote in a statement published on Medium. “It’s about who we are ― and who we can be.”
Obama and Ginsburg appeared to have a congenial relationship throughout his presidency. The two embraced every year at Obama’s State of the Union address, and the president once described the justice as “one of my favorite people.”
Ginsburg’s death, which comes just weeks ahead of the presidential election, gives President Donald Trump an opportunity to nominate another conservative justice to the high court. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he will move forward with a vote on a Trump nominee and allow a vote in the Republican-controlled chamber.
Ginsburg, days before her death, gave a statement to her granddaughter saying her last wish was “that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Obama alluded to that wish in his statement, and called on Senate Republicans to stick to the “invented” principle they established when he nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in 2016 — that the Senate shouldn’t vote on a Supreme Court nominee during the presidential election process.
“Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That’s how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored,” he wrote. “The questions before the Court now and in the coming years ― with decisions that will determine whether or not our economy is fair, our society is just, women are treated equally, our planet survives, and our democracy endures ― are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process.”
Several other former presidents, including Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, also issued statements mourning the loss of the liberal icon.
“A powerful legal mind and a staunch advocate for gender equality, she has been a beacon of justice during her long and remarkable career,” Carter said.
“She dedicated many of her 87 remarkable years to the pursuit of justice and equality, and she inspired more than one generation of women and girls,” Bush said Friday.