Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Reaction And Coverage Ongoing coverage and reaction to the Supreme Court justice's death.

Death Of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ongoing coverage and reaction to the Supreme Court justice's death

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg donated one of her lace collars and a copy of the book My Own Words to the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv. Shula Bahat/Courtesy Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv hide caption

toggle caption
Shula Bahat/Courtesy Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg donated one of her lace collars and a copy of the book My Own Words to the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv.

Shula Bahat/Courtesy Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv

Months before she died, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg received a letter from the chair of the board of a Jewish museum in Tel Aviv: Would she donate an artifact for the museum exemplifying her contribution to the field of justice and world civilization?

Two weeks later, on Jan. 27, Ginsburg replied on Supreme Court stationery: "I would be glad to contribute to the Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv one of the collars I wear with my robe at oral arguments. Would that be satisfactory?"

It was. An intricate white lace collar with a thick gold edge and a pearl clasp — one of the American Jewish justice's signature fashion accessories — will go on permanent display when the Tel Aviv museum reopens its main exhibit in December, pandemic willing.

"It's a highlight of my profession to be able to get such an item," says Orit Shaham Gover, the museum's chief curator.

Another Ginsburg collar, and one of her robes, is on display at the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie, Ill., part of an exhibit traveling throughout the U.S.

The Museum of the Jewish People, founded in 1978 and known as Beit Hatfutsot in Hebrew, tells the story of Jewish life around the world throughout history.

It honors Jewish personalities who made an impact on the world, displaying vintage 1960s cosmetics cases by Estée Lauder, a guitar played by Leonard Cohen during his last concert in Israel in 2009, and other items on loan or in the museum's collection belonging to Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein and Leonard Bernstein.

Ginsburg is receiving special honors at the museum, featured in three different exhibits, as well as in an elementary school textbook on Jewish historical figures the museum published for Jewish schools in the U.S.

A Museum of the Jewish People representative, Shula Bahat, went to Ginsburg's chambers at the Supreme Court to pick up the collar on March 4, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

"She's the first person I saw in Washington, D.C., at the time wearing a mask," Bahat says.

The justice rushed off to hear an important case while Bahat collected the collar, as well as an autographed copy of Ginsburg's 2016 book, My Own Words, which is also going on display.

Ginsburg's chambers were decorated with a Hebrew quote from Deuteronomy: Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue.

"She was a righteous person," Bahat says. "She was totally, totally dedicated to the values of Judaism."

Bryant Johnson, who was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer, poses at the court in 2017 with his book, "The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong ... and You Can Too!" J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Bryant Johnson, who was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's personal trainer, poses at the court in 2017 with his book, "The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong ... and You Can Too!"

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was honored Friday morning by her personal trainer of 21 years, Bryant Johnson, who did several pushups next to her casket at the U.S. Capitol.

Politicians and staff, including former Vice President Joe Biden, also paid tribute to Ginsburg, who made history posthumously as the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol.

Over the past few years, Ginsburg became famous for her strict workout routine with Johnson, whom she reportedly referred to as "the most important person" in her life, excluding her family, according to his website.

Despite battling multiple bouts of cancer and illnesses, Ginsburg was known to meet with Johnson for hourlong workout sessions. She first began working with him in 1999 following her first fight with cancer.

Johnson works as both a court clerk and a personal trainer for several federal court officials, including Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Stephen Breyer. He's also served three decades in the U.S. Army.

Johnson's relationship with the late justice and their workout routine was featured in the 2018 documentary RBG, which detailed the career and life of Ginsburg. In 2017, Johnson also published an exercise book titled The RBG Workout, which allowed fans to learn her routine.

"The beauty is that exercise is the equalizer," Bryant told NPR in 2017, "It doesn't matter who you are — race, religion, color, gender, national origin, sexual preference. It doesn't matter."

Listen to NPR's special coverage of the ceremony

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/916526420/917067132" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket leaves the U.S. Capitol. Carol Guzy for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Carol Guzy for NPR

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket leaves the U.S. Capitol.

Carol Guzy for NPR

Updated at 1:47 p.m. ET

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lay in state Friday at the U.S. Capitol, the first woman and the first Jewish person to be given that honor in the nation's history.

Ginsburg's casket was carried into Statuary Hall, just outside the House of Representatives' chamber, by an armed forces honor guard. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presided over a brief ceremony.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, who also eulogized Ginsburg as she lay in repose at the U.S. Supreme Court, said of Ginsburg Friday, "As a lawyer she won equality for women and men, not in one swift victory, but brick by brick, case by case. Through meticulous, careful lawyering, she changed the course of American law."

YouTube

Mezzo-soprano opera singer Denyce Graves performed a tribute to the late justice — who was an opera aficionado — and members of Congress filed past Ginsburg's casket.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, were also in attendance, along with vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.

As she left, Harris was asked whether Ginsburg cleared a path for her. "Absolutely," she responded.

"Because she first of all made America see what leadership looks like, and in the law, in terms of public service, and she broke so many barriers. And I know that she did it intentionally, knowing that people like me could follow," she said.

Ginsburg, who was described as "tough as nails" for incrementally taking on gender equality cases, became a feminist icon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, sends Ginsburg off. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Ginsburg, who was described as "tough as nails" for incrementally taking on gender equality cases, became a feminist icon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, sends Ginsburg off.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death spurred debate within the presidential race about nomination to fill her seat. "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg said, before she passed at age 87 from complications of pancreatic cancer. Carol Guzy for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Carol Guzy for NPR

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death spurred debate within the presidential race about nomination to fill her seat. "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg said, before she passed at age 87 from complications of pancreatic cancer.

Carol Guzy for NPR

The flag-draped coffin of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives to the U.S. Capitol where she will lie in state for two hours in Washington, D.C. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

The flag-draped coffin of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives to the U.S. Capitol where she will lie in state for two hours in Washington, D.C.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Joint Chiefs of Staff also also paid tribute.

Notably absent from the ceremony were Congress' two top Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first woman to be given this honor to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. Carol Guzy for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Carol Guzy for NPR

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first woman to be given this honor to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

Carol Guzy for NPR

Female Democratic senators and congresswomen including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer line up to bid farewell to the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Female Democratic senators and congresswomen including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer line up to bid farewell to the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

At the end of the memorial, Ginsburg's casket was carried down the Capitol steps past four rows of women lawmakers, who stood with hands on hearts.

Thousands of mourners paid their respects to Ginsburg during the two days her casket rested at the top of the Supreme Court steps, including former President Bill Clinton, who nominated her to the high court in 1993, and President Trump.

Trump's visit prompted shouting from the crowd of "honor her wish," referring to the justice's hope that she would not be replaced on the court "until a new president is installed." Trump has said he will announce his choice to succeed Ginsburg on Saturday.

Ginsburg will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, after Yom Kippur, next to her husband, Marty.

YouTube

As mourners gathered at the Supreme Court to pay their respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we asked them to reflect on the impact she had on their lives.

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump pay their respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lies in repose at the Supreme Court. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump pay their respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lies in repose at the Supreme Court.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Updated at 2:13 p.m. ET

President Trump was met by shouts of "vote him out" and "honor her wish" as he paid his respects on Thursday to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Her body is lying in repose for a second day at the Supreme Court.

Trump, wearing a black mask, was silent as he stood next to the flag-draped coffin at the top of the Supreme Court's steps.

Demonstrators standing across the street from the court booed Trump as he emerged from the building and then began chanting at him to honor Ginsburg's dying wish that she not be replaced "until a new president is installed."

PBS NewsHour via YouTube

Trump has dismissed her request, baselessly saying he thought it could have been made up by Democrats.

He is expected to announce his nominee to replace Ginsburg on Saturday.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the crowd's response to Trump's visit was "appalling, but certainly to be expected when you're in the heart of the swamp."

At a White House briefing Thursday afternoon, McEnany said Trump is met by supporters wherever he travels in the United States.

And she said he was following precedent by nominating someone to fill the vacancy.

U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at the Supreme Court. Carol Guzy for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Carol Guzy for NPR

U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at the Supreme Court.

Carol Guzy for NPR

Updated at 11:01 a.m. ET

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is lying in repose at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday, a two-day event honoring a justice who was both a cultural and legal icon.

As Ginsburg's casket arrived at the high court, former law clerks lined the Supreme Court steps. Supreme Court police officers served as pallbearers. Then the justice's family, close friends and members of the court held a brief ceremony in the court's Great Hall.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt eulogized Ginsburg as a "path-marking role model for women and girls of all ages, who now know that no office is out of reach for their dreams, whether that is to serve the highest court of our land or closer to home for me as the rabbi of their community."

Rabbi Holtzblatt, whose husband served as a law clerk for Ginsburg, said the justice's life's work was "to insist that the Constitution deliver on its promise, that we the people would include all the people. She carried out that work in every chapter of her life."

Chief Justice John Roberts said that Ginsburg's life "was one of the many versions of the American dream."

"Ruth used to ask, 'What is the difference between a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court justice?' Her answer: one generation," he said.

Former law clerks for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stand on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., as they await the arrival of the casket on Wednesday. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Claire Harbage/NPR

Former law clerks for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stand on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., as they await the arrival of the casket on Wednesday.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Pallbearers carry the casket of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Pallbearers carry the casket of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket arrives at Supreme Court. Carol Guzy for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Carol Guzy for NPR

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket arrives at Supreme Court.

Carol Guzy for NPR

Roberts noted that Ginsburg said she wanted to be an opera virtuoso "but became a rock star instead."

"She found her stage right behind me in our courtroom. There she won famous victories that helped move our nation closer to equal justice under law," he said, "to the extent that women are now a majority in law schools, not simply a handful."

Ginsburg's 483 majority, concurring, and dissenting opinions "will steer the court for decades," he said.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket is carried into the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Carol Guzy for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Carol Guzy for NPR

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's casket is carried into the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Carol Guzy for NPR

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Claire Harbage/NPR

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Supreme Court staff pay their respects for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Supreme Court staff pay their respects for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

After the ceremony, Ginsburg's casket was moved under the portico at the top of the front steps of the Supreme Court building for members of the public to pay respects. The court said public viewing would be allowed from 11 a.m. ET until 10 p.m. on Wednesday and from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Thursday.

The White House announced Wednesday morning that President Trump will pay his respects to the late justice on Thursday at the court. On Friday, Ginsburg will become the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, an honor reserved for Americans considered to have lived a life of distinguished service to the nation.

Ginsburg's death last week, less than 50 days before the election, raised near-immediate political questions over whether Republicans could — or should — confirm a new justice during an election year.

When Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in 2016, nearly nine months ahead of that year's general election, Republicans successfully blocked then-President Barack Obama's nomination of a justice to the court, citing the proximity to the election.

People pay respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Tyrone Turner/WAMU hide caption

toggle caption
Tyrone Turner/WAMU

People pay respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Tyrone Turner/WAMU

Visitors pay their respects for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lies in repose. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Visitors pay their respects for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lies in repose.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton pay their respects for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton pay their respects for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Now, however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., argues that voters who put Republicans in power in both the White House and Senate have endorsed the GOP judicial agenda. And it appears his party members agree.

Ginsburg's vacant seat would be President Trump's third nomination to the high court. The confirmation of an additional conservative justice would likely have generations-long implications for the court — and its opinions on a range of issues.

Trump has said he will announce his nominee to the court, promising to select a woman, on Saturday.

Christina Lecker (left), Chivonn Anderson and Sarah Stevens drove from Philadelphia Wednesday morning to pay their respects. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Claire Harbage/NPR

Christina Lecker (left), Chivonn Anderson and Sarah Stevens drove from Philadelphia Wednesday morning to pay their respects.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Jill Reedy and her daughter, Ava Reedy Martin, 11, are waiting for when Justice Ginsburg will lie in repose. Tyrone Turner/WAMU hide caption

toggle caption
Tyrone Turner/WAMU

Jill Reedy and her daughter, Ava Reedy Martin, 11, are waiting for when Justice Ginsburg will lie in repose.

Tyrone Turner/WAMU

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the chamber Monday after speaking about the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. McConnell made the case on the Senate floor that voters elected a GOP majority to confirm judicial nominees. J. Scott Applewhite/AP hide caption

toggle caption
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the chamber Monday after speaking about the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. McConnell made the case on the Senate floor that voters elected a GOP majority to confirm judicial nominees.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Updated at 7:58 p.m. ET

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated his plans to move forward on President Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

"The Senate will vote on this nomination this year," McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday on the Senate floor. He didn't say whether the vote would come before the election, or in a lame duck-session of Congress that occurs after the November election and before the start of a new session in 2021.

Trump told reporters he would probably announce his pick on Saturday. He is considering a group of five female candidates. Trump repeated his preference that the Senate vote on the nominee before the Nov. 3 election.

McConnell pushed back at those who argued that with just weeks left before the election the Senate can't complete the confirmation process, saying there are 43 days until the election and 104 until the end of this session of Congress.

"The Senate has more than sufficient time to process the nomination. History and precedent make that perfectly clear." He cited several Supreme Court confirmation votes — including Ginsburg's — that took place within a similar or shorter period of time.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., slammed Republicans for acting on the vacancy this close to the election, saying they've "made a mockery of their previous positions" in 2016 when McConnell blocked action on President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, to fill a vacancy due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

But McConnell maintains that the situation this year is not analogous to the 2016 instance because there was divided government then. He said voters elected a GOP majority in the Senate in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because Republicans touted their plan to work with the president on his nominations to the federal judiciary.

"Perhaps more than any other single issue, the American people strengthened this Senate majority to keep confirming this president's impressive judicial nominees who respect our Constitution and understand the proper role of a judge," McConnell said.

So far two Senate Republicans — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have said they do not believe the Senate should take up the president's nomination before the election. If another two GOP senators joined them and opposed the vote, McConnell would be unable to proceed — or he could be forced to postpone action until after the election when they might be open to backing the president's nominee.

The chances of that continued to dim Monday night, though, when another moderate Republican came out in favor of a vote. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado said in a statement, "Should a qualified nominee who meets this criteria be put forward, I will vote to confirm."

Retiring Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said over the weekend he too would support his party in voting on a nominee in an election year.

Schumer said the vacancy on the high court puts "everything on the line" — listing health care, same-sex marriage, reproductive rights, workers' rights and voting rights. "If you care about these things and the kind of country we live in — this election, and this vacancy, mean everything."

Crowds gather Saturday at the Supreme Court to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Cliff Owen/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Cliff Owen/AP

Crowds gather Saturday at the Supreme Court to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Cliff Owen/AP

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday, the Supreme Court announced Monday.

Her casket will arrive in front of the court just before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the court said in a statement. A private ceremony will take place in the court's Great Hall at 9:30 a.m. attended by Ginsburg's family, close friends and members of the court.

Following that ceremony, Ginsburg will lie in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the Supreme Court building to allow for public viewing outdoors.

"The public is invited to pay respects in front of the Building from approximately 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Wednesday, September 23, and from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 24," the court said in a statement.

Large crowds are expected to begin lining up well before the viewing, and the court will be kept open to accommodate those who want to say their final goodbyes to the justice.

Ginsburg's former law clerks will serve as honorary pallbearers and will line the front steps as the casket arrives. Supreme Court police officers will serve as pallbearers.

"The justices will remain inside the Great Hall where the casket will be placed on the Lincoln Catafalque, which has been loaned to the Court by the U.S. Congress for the ceremony," the statement said. "A 2016 portrait of Justice Ginsburg by Constance P. Beaty will be on display in the Great Hall."

Because of the Jewish High Holidays, Ginsburg will be buried next Tuesday, Sept. 29, after Yom Kippur, the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. She will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband of 56 years, Marty Ginsburg, who died in 2010. Members of the court, family and close friends will attend.

Ginsburg's death less than 50 days before the presidential election has made the issue of her replacement on the court a controversial one, with Democrats saying the GOP-led Senate should wait until after the election to vote on a nominee. President Trump said Monday he'll likely name a replacement for Ginsburg Friday or Saturday, adding "We should wait until the services are over."

Separately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that Ginsburg will lie in state in National Statuary Hall in the Capitol on Friday.

A formal ceremony will be held Friday morning and will be open to invited guests only because of the coronavirus pandemic, a statement from Pelosi said.

President Trump said he is looking at five potential nominees to fill the Supreme Court seat left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said he is looking at five potential nominees to fill the Supreme Court seat left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Updated at 5:15 p.m. ET

President Trump said on Monday that he plans to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the end of this week.

"I think it will be on Friday or Saturday, and we want to pay respect," Trump said in an interview on Fox & Friends. "It looks like we will have probably services on Thursday or Friday, as I understand it, and I think in all due respect we should wait until the services are over for Justice Ginsburg."

Trump said later Monday he would probably announce the decision on Saturday.

"And we'll make a decision probably Saturday, but Friday or Saturday," he told reporters before departing for Ohio.

While repeatedly proclaiming his respect for Ginsburg, Trump dismissed her final statement — her wish not to be replaced until a new president is installed — saying it sounded like it "came out of the wind" and suggesting with no evidence that a Democratic opponent could have made it up.

"I don't know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi?" Trump said, referring to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. "I would be more inclined to the second, OK, you know? That came out of the wind. It sounds so beautiful, but that sounds like a Schumer deal, or maybe a Pelosi or Shifty Schiff."

Trump said he is looking at five potential nominees.

"Most of them [the potential nominees] are young, and they've gone through the [nomination] process very recently," Trump said, arguing that the process could move rapidly through the Senate. He noted that one person he is considering for the vacancy is 38 years old and could be on the court for 50 years. NPR has previously reported that Allison Jones Rushing, who is on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is being considered. She is 38.

He also praised Judge Barbara Lagoa, who is from Florida, a key swing state in the presidential election. Lagoa is on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. "She's excellent. She's Hispanic. She's a terrific woman from everything I know. I don't know her. Florida, we love Florida. So she's got a lot of things, very smart."

Trump thought the naming of a nominee could help Republicans retain the Senate in November, including the reelection of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who's in a tight contest in Colorado.

But he also said the comments by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, could hurt their chances. Both indicated the Senate should not act on a replacement for Ginsburg until after the presidential election.

"I think Susan Collins is very badly hurt by her statement yesterday," Trump said.

And he said Murkowski's comments "will follow her." Murkowski is not up for reelection for two years.

The bench draped for the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States hide caption

toggle caption
Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

The bench draped for the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's chair on the U.S. Supreme Court bench and the bench directly in front of it have been draped with black wool crepe in memoriam.

In addition, a black drape has been hung over the courtroom doors. According to the Supreme Court, this tradition dates back at least as far as the death of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase in 1873. It is believed to have been followed since, after the death of each sitting justice.

The court has also announced that the flags on the Supreme Court's front plaza will be flown at half-staff for 30 days.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about the future of the Supreme Court on Sunday at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Carolyn Kaster/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks about the future of the Supreme Court on Sunday at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

With President Trump soon to nominate a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, some Democrats are returning to an idea that hasn't been seriously proposed since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt: increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

Democratic leaders have long rejected the idea of packing the court, in large part due to fears of Republican retaliation. But with Ginsburg's death — and what many see as Republican hypocrisy in calling for a vote now after they refused to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland during the last year of Barack Obama's presidency — the once radical idea has started to gain traction.

The Supreme Court has had nine justices for more than 150 years. But the Constitution doesn't require nine; the number is set by Congress. And leading constitutional scholars told NPR that if Republicans do push through a new justice and then lose the Senate and presidency in the upcoming election, Democrats will face tremendous political pressure from the base to pack the courts.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hasn't commented publicly on expanding the court since Ginsburg's death. But he previously dismissed the idea, warning of reprisal if and when Republicans regain control.

"I'm not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we'll live to rue that day," he told Iowa Starting Line early in the primary race last year. A few months later, during a Democratic primary debate, Biden once again rejected the idea. "I would not get into court packing," Biden said. "We add three justices. Next time around, we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all."

In remarks Sunday on the future of the Supreme Court, Biden did not discuss court packing. And on Sunday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demurred when asked whether a Democratic majority would consider expanding the court as reprisal for a late-term Trump appointment.

"Let's just win the election," Pelosi told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "Let's hope that the president will see the light."

But other Democrats have been less reticent. "Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year," Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts wrote Friday. "If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court."

Even before Ginsburg's death, several Democratic presidential hopefuls had said they were open to the idea, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kamala Harris of California, now the vice presidential nominee.

To University of Chicago law professor Brian Leiter, the current Supreme Court makeup is already evidence of court packing. "The Republicans packed the court after Scalia's death when they denied President Obama his choice," Leiter told NPR. "Now they want to pack it further and more consequentially, given that they would appoint a conservative to replace the liberal Ginsburg. If they pack the court, the Democrats would be crazy not to do their own court packing."

Other academics agree that Democratic court packing is likely. "If the GOP goes forward with trying to fill the seat this year regardless of the election result, I think there is a substantial likelihood (at least 50% or more) that the Democrats will respond with court-packing, the next time they get a chance to do so," George Mason University law professor Ilya Somin said via e-mail.

But court packing would be a "terrible idea," Somin warned, "as it would lead to a spiral that undermines the institution of judicial review." It would also open the door for Republicans to respond in kind. "I don't see any likely way of avoiding the spiral, once one party has passed a court-packing bill once," he said.

Expanding the court isn't the only way to respond to what Democrats would perceive as an illegitimate election-year appointment, however. In a paper authored this year by Yale Law School professor Samuel Moyn and University of Chicago law professor Ryan Doerfler, the two suggest several options to overhaul the court by reducing its power.

The authors said lawmakers could require a Supreme Court supermajority for some decisions, so that major federal statutes aren't invalidated by a simple 5-4 ruling. Congress could also insulate specific legislation from judicial review — known in legal circles as "jurisdiction stripping."

These changes "would shift important policy disputes from the judicial arena to the small-d democratic one, thereby substantially reducing the importance of which party has effective control of the courts," Doerfler told NPR.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said he believes the Senate should not fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg until after the 2020 election, noting that voting has already started and Republicans took a similar stance in 2016. Tom Williams/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Tom Williams/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said he believes the Senate should not fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg until after the 2020 election, noting that voting has already started and Republicans took a similar stance in 2016.

Tom Williams/AFP via Getty Images

Tributes and remembrances have poured in from across the country following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday night. So too have stark calls and concerns over the potential timeline for choosing her successor.

Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, D.-N.J., who sits on the judiciary committee, told NPR on Sunday that he believes lawmakers should let the winner of November's presidential election select a nominee.

"Voting has started in a number of states and I really do believe that we should be not considering any nomination," he told Lulu Garcia-Navarro on Weekend Edition.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. said on Friday that the president's nominee will receive a vote on the Senate floor.

Democrats point to McConnell's stance after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, when he effectively blocked then-President Obama's nominee and said a replacement should be chosen by the next president.

Forty-four days before the 2020 election, lawmakers' statements are falling largely along partisan lines. As of Sunday afternoon, two Republican senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have said they do not support taking up a nomination vote before November.

President Trump said over the weekend that he expects to announce a nominee this week.

In 2016, Republicans argued that the decision to fill a Supreme Court vacancy should not be made during an election campaign. They should stand by that principle this time around, Booker said.

"They said that 269 days before an election," Booker said. "We're 45 days before Election Day and the voting has already started. The question right now is will those Republican senators honor their word, and not cooperate with this push to get someone to floor and voted on?"

Booker argued that Democrats need to focus on winning back the Senate and White House in November before thinking about the future of the Supreme Court. Some Democrats have called for potentially expanding the number of justices.

Booker declined to weigh in on the merits of potential nominees including Amy Coney Barrett and Barbara Lagoa. Trump has said he will appoint a woman.

Booker expressed his hope that some GOP senators will break with their party, as Collins, Murkowski and John McCain did in 2017 when they voted against overturning the Affordable Care Act.

"That issue and many others are at stake right now, and I'm hoping that some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will realize that and wait until after the inauguration before we begin to consider a nominee from a president," Booker said.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander speaks at a Senate hearing Wednesday. Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

Tennessee Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander speaks at a Senate hearing Wednesday.

Anna Moneymaker/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Lamar Alexander on Sunday said he supports fellow Republicans' efforts to take up a Supreme Court justice nomination during this presidential election year, squashing speculation that the retiring Tennessean might buck party leadership.

"No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican President's Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year," Alexander said in a statement. He added that "[Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch] McConnell is only doing what Democrat leaders have said they would do if the shoe were on the other foot."

Alexander continued: "I have voted to confirm Justices Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh based upon their intelligence, character and temperament. I will apply the same standard when I consider President Trump's nomination to replace Justice Ginsburg."

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday has launched a political battle over the propriety of a president nominating and the Senate considering a justice in such close proximity to an election.

When Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in 2016, nearly nine months before that election, Kentucky Republican McConnell blocked then-President Barack Obama's nomination of a justice, citing the fact that an election was imminent.

When Ginsburg died on Friday, there were just 46 days until the Nov. 3 election.

Republicans have said this year is different because they control both the Senate and the presidency.

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins has said the winner of the election should name the nominee, and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has reiterated her stance that any nomination shouldn't be considered before the election.

Republicans have a 53-seat majority in the Senate, and some political watchers were looking to see what Alexander might do.

Ginsburg, whose health waned in the years prior to her death, dictated in a deathbed statement to her granddaughter: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

She was 87 years old.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Sunday about the Supreme Court following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. Carolyn Kaster/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Carolyn Kaster/AP

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Sunday about the Supreme Court following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday delivered uncompromising remarks, calling for Republicans to hold off on considering a Supreme Court nominee from President Trump until after the Nov. 3 general election.

Biden urged Republican lawmakers to respect the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish that she "not be replaced until a new president is installed."

"As a nation, we should heed her final call to us," Biden said in campaign remarks in Philadelphia.

"To jam this nominee through the Senate is an exercise of raw political power," he said, asking for a "handful" of Republicans to "please follow your conscience."

Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins has said the winner of the election should name the nominee, and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has reiterated her stance that any nomination shouldn't be considered before the election.

Republicans have a 53-seat majority in the Senate.

"This appointment is about the future, and the people of this country are deciding their future right now," Biden said. Three times in his remarks, Biden referenced the fact that voters have already started casting their ballots in this year's general election.

Ginsburg's death on Friday, just 46 days before Nov. 3, has led Republicans to scramble to justify nominating a justice to the bench during an election year, despite past opposition to doing so during Barack Obama's presidency.

Democrats, meanwhile, have called to wait until after the election. Appointees from Democratic presidents already are the minority on the nine-person court.

Trump has said his pick for a nominee could come within days, and he has pledged to select "a woman, a very talented, very brilliant woman."

Ginsburg, a liberal on the court and feminist icon, died on Friday at age 87.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, wears a face covering during a committee hearing on June 30. Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, wears a face covering during a committee hearing on June 30.

Al Drago/Pool/Getty Images

Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said on Sunday that she will not support nominating a successor to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court before the 2020 presidential election. The announcement makes her the second Senate Republican to publicly take that position.

"For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election," Murkowski said in a statement. "Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed. I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice [Antonin] Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply."

Her comments come two days after she told Alaska Public Media that she would not vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee before the election. "We are 50-some days away from an election," Murkowski said on Friday, before it was announced that Ginsburg had died.

Murkowski joins her Republican colleague Susan Collins of Maine, who on Saturday said the nomination should be made by the winner of the 2020 presidential election.

"In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd," Collins said.

President Trump is expected to announce a nominee as early as this week. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the president's nominee would "receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate." Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the chamber. If every member of the Democratic caucus votes against the nominee, the GOP can afford to lose no more than three members in a confirmation vote.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday at age 87. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday at age 87.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The chief of staff to Vice President Pence on Sunday defended the administration's decision to ignore the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's deathbed request not to fill her seat until after the election, telling CNN that it was not Ginsburg's choice to make.

Shortly before dying Friday, Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

"Today we as a nation mourn the loss of Justice Ginsburg," Marc Short said on CNN's State of the Union. "She's certainly a giant upon whose shoulders many will stand, and she blazed a trail for many women in the legal profession. But the decision of when to nominate does not lie with her."

President Trump said Saturday that he will nominate a woman to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat and that he expects to announce his nominee in the coming days.

"I think the American people wanted Donald Trump to be in a position to make these nominations, and it's his obligation to do so," Short said.

Republicans' scramble to nominate a new justice to the court just over a month away from the general election has led to accusations of hypocrisy in the face of the position they took after the unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

At the time, Republicans successfully blocked the nomination of then-President Barack Obama's nominee to the court, Merrick Garland, citing the fact that it was an election year.

Republicans have said this year is different because they control both the Senate and the presidency.

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican and chair of the Senate Rules Committee, told CBS' Face the Nation that there was "plenty of time" for a nominee to be confirmed.

"There is plenty of time to get this done. But to get it done before Election Day, everything has to work, I think, pretty precisely," he said.

At the time of Scalia's death, there were 269 days until the general election. At the time of Ginsburg's, just 46 days.

Following Scalia's death, Blunt wrote on Twitter: "The Senate should not confirm a new Supreme Court justice until we have a new president."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., rallies the crowd of 2,500 people during a vigil Saturday night for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington, D.C. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., rallies the crowd of 2,500 people during a vigil Saturday night for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington, D.C.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Alicia Aguiano drove down to Washington, D.C., from Philadelphia this weekend to pay her respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

As she stood in front of the Supreme Court building, with its sidewalk covered in flowers and chalk tributes to Ginsburg, her voice quavered and she wiped at tears.

"I've just been super inspired by her. I really identify with her," she said. "I'm a lawyer, and I also teach at a law school. And so I fully recognize that I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for her, and so I just felt the need to come down and pay my respects."

Aguiano had come down in part to attend a Saturday night vigil honoring the Supreme Court justice, who died Friday night. The vigil — hosted by a variety of activist groups, including the Women's March, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and MoveOn Political Action — was part memorial service, part political rally. The crowd held candles as they listened to speakers celebrate Ginsburg's advances for women's rights, and also to exhort attendees to vote President Trump out of office.

An image of Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits surrounded by flowers during the vigil. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

An image of Ruth Bader Ginsburg sits surrounded by flowers during the vigil.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Mourners attend the vigil for associate justice for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Mourners attend the vigil for associate justice for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Attendees said they felt that mix of mourning and political gravity.

"As a law student, I really see how impactful that it was that she did dissent on so many big decisions," said Olivia Mound, a law student at American University in Washington, D.C., her voice breaking. "It was such a display of her character and moral fortitude."

She added that Ginsburg's death makes her want to be more politically active.

"It adds that sense of urgency, me wanting to talk even more to people who might be on the fence about voting and to really approach people and be like, 'Hey, do you have a plan?' " she said. "Because this election means everything."

Makek Ahmad (left) and Jack Korologos(right) stop to look at the candles, signs and flowers left in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Makek Ahmad (left) and Jack Korologos(right) stop to look at the candles, signs and flowers left in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Ginsburg herself made sure her political desires were known as she approached death. Days before she died, she dictated a statement to her granddaughter to that effect, as NPR's Nina Totenberg reported: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." (The White House is expected to name a replacement for Ginsburg as early as this week.)

There was a sense among some attendees that yes, they planned to vote against Trump, and yes, many planned to donate or volunteer (or both), but that Ginsburg's death has turned up their sense of urgency from an 11 to a 13.

"It's easy to watch the protesters walk by. It's easy to sort of let things go past you and support it silently," said Rachael Blumenberg, who lives in Washington, and attended with her mother, sister and daughter. "But I don't think we have the luxury of doing that anymore."

Mourners laid flowers and signs at the vigil. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Mourners laid flowers and signs at the vigil.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

People gather to pay their respects for Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

People gather to pay their respects for Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Those feelings were stoked by a packed program of speakers who included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Warren drew some of the loudest cheers of the night when she condemned Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Mitch McConnell and his henchmen believe that they can ram through a Supreme Court justice only 45 days from Election Day," Warren said.

McConnell famously refused to hold hearings for President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, claiming he wanted to wait until the next president was elected to allow voters to "weigh in on whom they trust" to make that appointment.

Gwendolyn Howard of Fairfax, Va., wears a collar just like the one associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Gwendolyn Howard of Fairfax, Va., wears a collar just like the one associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg wore.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

"Mitch McConnell believes that this fight is over. What Mitch McConnell does not understand is this fight has just begun," Warren said, to raucous cheers.

One of the topics that received the most attention from speakers was abortion. Ginsburg was a strong proponent of abortion rights.

Jasmine Clemons spoke on behalf of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, telling the story of her own abortion procedure.

"I made the best decision for my life, my future and my body," she said. "That was made possible because of women like Justice Ginsburg."

(Left to right) Kelvin Flores, Franklin Ortiz, Steven Zatarga and Shahab Albahar listen to speakers in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during the vigil. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

(Left to right) Kelvin Flores, Franklin Ortiz, Steven Zatarga and Shahab Albahar listen to speakers in front of the U.S. Supreme Court during the vigil.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Saori Ishida holds a candle during a vigil for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Saori Ishida holds a candle during a vigil for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

While some in the crowd were inspired to do more to vote Trump out, others said that Ginsburg's death changes nothing about how they're approaching the election.

Standing back from the crowd and listening quietly, Frank Panopoulos, a lawyer from Maryland, said that he's excited to vote against Trump this year, just as he was before Ginsburg passed.

"I was energetic before, and I will be energetic later," Panopoulos said.

Ginsburg's Death A 'Pivot Point' For Abortion Rights, Advocates Say

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/914864867/914949322" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Renee-Lauren Ellis, a Washington, D.C.-area attorney, says, "It's dire that something as fundamental as what I do with my body is up for debate still, in 2020." Sarah McCammon/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Sarah McCammon/NPR

Renee-Lauren Ellis, a Washington, D.C.-area attorney, says, "It's dire that something as fundamental as what I do with my body is up for debate still, in 2020."

Sarah McCammon/NPR

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

With her 14-month-old daughter on her hip, Anna Lashley, an attorney from Washington, D.C., came to pay her last respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court on Saturday.

"I just can't wait to tell my daughter about her, and teach her about the lessons she taught me, and what she did for women," Lashley said.

Now, with a vacancy on the court left by Ginsburg's death, President Trump appears poised to name his third Supreme Court nominee in less than four years — tilting the court even further to the right than its 5-4 conservative majority that existed until Friday.

"I'm terrified for women in this country," Lashley said. "I'm very concerned about what it will mean for Roe v. Wade going forward. I'm worried that other people aren't going to be able to take up the fight that she did for us."

Anna Lashley, a D.C.-area attorney, brought her daughter to the Supreme Court to honor the memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 19, 2020. Sarah McCammon/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Sarah McCammon/NPR

Anna Lashley, a D.C.-area attorney, brought her daughter to the Supreme Court to honor the memory of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 19, 2020.

Sarah McCammon/NPR

Without Ginsburg's reliable liberal vote and her consistent voice for reproductive rights, Renee-Lauren Ellis has similar fears about the future of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. Ellis, who's also a lawyer in the D.C. area, said she's afraid of what she sees as the potential to go backward.

"It's dire that something as fundamental as what I do with my body is up for debate still, in 2020," Ellis said.

Ginsburg's death sets up a divisive nomination fight in the midst of a presidential campaign. And advocates on opposing sides of the issue agree that it could be a turning point in the long-running debate over one of the most divisive issues for the court: abortion rights.

For those opposed to abortion rights, a Supreme Court vacancy just weeks before a presidential election also marks a pivot point.

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said she hopes to soon see the culmination of a movement that began decades ago.

"Our ultimate goal, and we've been very clear with this, is an America without abortion, where abortion is made illegal and unthinkable," Hawkins said.

Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which opposes abortion rights and has spent years working to elect Republican senators and confirm conservative judges. The group, which has staunchly supported Trump and his judicial nominees, advocates a variety of restrictions on abortion, including banning the procedure at 20 weeks or earlier and for reasons such as the sex, race, or disability of the fetus.

Dannenfelser said she hopes a more conservative court would roll back the Roe decision, setting the stage for state legislatures to ban abortion as early as the first trimester.

"If abortion is the taking of a human life, the more ambitious they are the better," she said.

Dannenfelser said she and her family happened to be sitting outside the Supreme Court on Friday evening when they heard the news of Ginsburg's death.

"It was such a sense of profound meaning that we felt in her passing, and also a moment of change," she said. "That in this place that we're sitting will be the pivot point of change in our country."

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Alexis McGill Johnson agrees there's a lot at stake.

"The fate of our rights, our freedoms, our health care, our bodies, our lives, our country, literally depends on what happens over the coming months," McGill Johnson said.

Groups that support abortion rights, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL, say they'll be working to apply pressure to potentially vulnerable Republican senators facing reelection now or in 2022, demanding they wait to confirm a replacement for Ginsburg until after the November election.

McGill Johnson notes that four years ago, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., famously refused to hold hearings to consider President Obama's nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. At that time, the presidential election was more than eight months away, and McConnell argued it was too close. Now, with the election about six weeks away, McConnell is promising to work quickly to confirm a Trump nominee.

"Mitch McConnell keeps making up the rules to suit his desires and his will to maintain power," McGill Johnson said. "In a democracy, it's really important that we all play by the same rules."

Abortion rights advocates are closely watching more than a dozen cases that are working their way through the court system and could reach the Supreme Court in the near future – as well as a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, which could have significant implications for reproductive healthcare.

Mourners have been leaving flowers and other mementos outside the U.S. Supreme Court in honor of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sarah McCammon/NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Sarah McCammon/NPR

Mourners have been leaving flowers and other mementos outside the U.S. Supreme Court in honor of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Sarah McCammon/NPR

This summer, supporters of abortion rights won a surprising victory when the court struck down a Louisiana law that could have had the effect of shutting down most abortion clinics in the state. Chief Justice John Roberts cast the swing vote in that decision, siding with the majority. The opinion was in line with a 2016 ruling that struck down a similar Texas law requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges. In that case, Roberts had dissented. But in the Louisiana case, Roberts said he wanted to uphold the court's earlier precedent.

Michele Goodwin, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, said such a result would be far more difficult with another Trump nominee on the court.

"That would swing the court in such a way that for at least the next two generations that it would mean hostility to reproductive rights," Goodwin said.

President Trump speaks at a campaign rally Saturday at the Fayetteville Regional Airport in North Carolina. Chris Carlson/AP hide caption

toggle caption
Chris Carlson/AP

President Trump speaks at a campaign rally Saturday at the Fayetteville Regional Airport in North Carolina.

Chris Carlson/AP

A day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, chants of "Fill that seat! Fill that seat!" broke out during President Trump's campaign rally in Fayetteville, N.C., on Saturday.

"That's what we're going to do. We're going to fill that seat!" Trump said, saying his supporters should print "Fill that seat!" on T-shirts.

The president also pledged to nominate a woman for the seat, saying "I actually like women much more than I like men." He went on to "poll" the crowd about whether they'd prefer a man or a woman for the seat. The cheers were much louder for a woman nominee.

"It will be a woman, a very talented, very brilliant woman," Trump then announced.

Earlier Saturday, Trump had said he expects to announce the nominee next week.

Trump said previous presidents have filled vacancies on the court "every single time," ignoring the Republican-controlled Senate's refusal to consider former President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland ahead of the 2016 election.

"Nobody said, 'Let's not fill that seat," Trump said. "We win an election, and those are the consequences."

Trump also nodded to Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who is up for reelection in a tough race and earlier Saturday said he would approve Trump's nominee if a vote was held before Election Day.

The Democrats would need four Republicans to join them to stop Trump's nominee.

September 19

Anita Hill Reflects On Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Gender Equality Legacy

Anita Hill Reflects On Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Gender Equality Legacy

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/914836322/914850406" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Anita Hill speaks onstage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in October 2018 in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Fortune hide caption

toggle caption
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Fortune

Anita Hill speaks onstage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in October 2018 in Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Fortune

Both Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anita Hill became cultural figures in their fight for gender equality. In the aftermath of Justice Ginsburg's death, Hill says, "her legacy is so large."

"I think that her voice brought to the court her willingness to really push for a full and inclusive definition of equality," Hill told NPR's All Things Considered. "I think those are things that characterized her and I think that's how she will be remembered."

Before her tenure on the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was a prominent lawyer who was instrumental in fighting gender discrimination. She brought that experience with her when President Bill Clinton nominated her to the high court in 1993.

This was two years after President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to become an associate justice. His confirmation hearings in 1991 captivated the nation after allegations surfaced that Thomas had sexually harassed Hill, a lawyer who had worked for him at a previous job.

Hill, who is now a professor of social policy, law and women's studies at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, spoke with NPR's Michel Martin about Ginsburg's legacy, her fight for gender equality and more.


Interview Highlights

On Ruth Bader Ginsburg's fight for gender equality

I think of her contributions as really helping us define in a very inclusive way what equality was going to mean — what it would look like if we ultimately get to it. And of course being inclusive, her impact did have very much to do with the issues of gender violence, including sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace.

On Ruth Bader Ginsburg's famous dissents

The fact that she continued to advocate on behalf of equality even though she was in the minority, I think, that is what has inspired a lot of people. And I'll give you a prime example and that is in the Ledbetter case involving equal pay for women. When the majority ruled in favor of the tire company that was paying Lilly Ledbetter less money, she wrote a dissent, read the dissent and urged Congress to correct the court's decision — and that actually happened about a year and a half after she read her dissent from the bench. I think with actions like that, that really captured our imagination and said that even when you may seem to be down and your position may seem to be lost, there are ways that you can move on to win.

On Ruth Bader Ginsburg's legacy

One of the things that concerns me most is that we will no longer have a pioneer in the civil rights movement or women's rights movement on the court. And I think we are losing something now that we've lost that voice. We had it with Thurgood Marshall and we've had it with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And I hope that somehow we can regain that.

Robert Baldwin III and William Troop produced and edited the audio version of this story. Christianna Silva adapted it for the Web.

Chief Justice John Roberts called Ginsburg "a jurist of historic stature." Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Chief Justice John Roberts called Ginsburg "a jurist of historic stature."

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Supreme Court justices, both current and former, are remembering their colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday at the age of 87.

"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," wrote Chief Justice John Roberts in a statement Friday.

Current and former justices reminisced Saturday about their colleague, recalling a diligent legal mind who embodied wisdom, integrity and kindness.

Stephen Breyer wrote that he heard of Ginsburg's death while reciting the Mourner's Kaddish during Rosh Hashanah services. "The world is a better place for her having lived in it," he said.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor called her "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," wrote Sotomayor.

Justice Elena Kagan remembered Ginsburg as a hero working to ensure the "country's legal system lives up to its ideals and extends its rights and protections to those once excluded." Kagan also recounted Ginsburg's encouragement throughout her career.

"Ruth reached out to encourage and assist me in my career, as she did for so many others, long before I came to the Supreme Court. And she guided and inspired me, on matters large and small, once I became her colleague," Kagan said in her statement.

Praise for Ginsburg wasn't restricted to her fellow liberals on the court. Justices across the ideological divide shared fond memories of their former colleague. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that his colleague of nearly 30 years was the "essence of grace, civility and dignity."

"The most difficult part of a long tenure is watching colleagues decline and pass away. And, the passing of my dear colleague, Ruth, is profoundly difficult and so very sad. I will dearly miss my friend," Thomas wrote.

Other conservative justices also shared their memories of Ginsburg. Neil Gorsuch wrote of a colleague with a sweet tooth and appreciation for opera. Justice Brett Kavanaugh said he kept a photo of her standing with four of his former law clerks in his chambers. Justice Samuel Alito called her "a leading figure in the history of the Court."

Other remembrances came from two former justices. Anthony Kennedy wrote that Ginsburg was "remarkably well prepared for every case." David Souter told NPR he was "heartbroken" by Ginsburg's death.

"She was this rare combo of an intellectual giant in the law with a soft center and wonderful sense of humor," Souter said.

President Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn prior to departing the White House on Saturday. Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn prior to departing the White House on Saturday.

Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump says that he expects to announce a nominee to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death "next week" and that the pick will likely be a woman.

"A choice of a woman would certainly be appropriate," he told reporters at the White House on Saturday before leaving for a campaign rally in North Carolina.

(Later on, at that rally, Trump pledged his pick would indeed be a woman: "It will be a woman, a very talented, very brilliant woman.")

"We want to respect the process," Trump said. "I think it's going to go very quickly, actually." He had previously tweeted that Republicans should move forward with a nominee "without delay."

Shortly after the court announced Ginsburg's death on Friday night, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he intends to bring the president's selection to a vote on the Senate floor.

Democrats have cried foul, saying there should not be a vote until after the election. They point to McConnell's decision in 2016 to stop then-President Barack Obama's nomination to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat on the court.

Now, attention is on more moderate Senate Republicans such as Susan Collins of Maine, who is in a tough reelection fight.

In a statement on Saturday, Collins said that she does not support a vote on a Supreme Court nominee before the election and that the winner of the presidential election should name the pick. She did not explicitly say she would vote to stop a pre-election nomination if it happened.

"We won [the last election] and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want," Trump said. He predicted the Senate would move quickly on his nominee. "I would think before [the Nov. 3 election] would be very good."

Trump was asked by reporters about Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom he called "highly respected," but stopped short of saying she was the front-runner. Reporters also asked about another jurist being mentioned as a potential choice: Judge Barbara Lagoa. Trump said he had heard good things about her, and noted she is Hispanic and from Miami.

Death Of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ongoing coverage and reaction to the Supreme Court justice's death