Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday from complications of metastatic cancer at the age of 87

By Gabrielle Chung
September 18, 2020 09:31 PM
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg had one final "fervent wish" before her death.

The Supreme Court justice, who died on Friday from complications of metastatic cancer at the age of 87, told her granddaughter Clara Spera days before her death that she did not want her vacancy filled until a new president has taken office, according to NPR.

"My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg dictated to Spera, according to the outlet.

Ginsburg was surrounded by her family when she died in her home in Washington, D.C., according to the Supreme Court.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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"Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague," Chief Justice John G. Roberts said in a statement. "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."

Ginsburg’s health had been more uneven in recent years. She was treated with chemotherapy earlier this year for a recurrence of pancreatic cancer — first treated in 2009 — that spread to her liver, and had four prior cancer diagnoses.

In early November, 2018, she was hospitalized after fracturing three ribs, leading doctors to discover malignant nodules in her lungs, which were successfully removed in December, 2018. Months later, during the summer of 2019, she was treated for pancreatic cancer. In 1999, she had surgery for colorectal cancer.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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Ginsburg, who served on the court for more than 27 years since President Bill Clinton appointed her in 1993, was one of the court’s liberal voices and at the time of her death led the liberal wing’s four members.

Last year, Ginsburg spoke about hoping to serve as for long as the late Justice John Paul Stevens did. (Stevens retired from court in 2010 at the age of 90 and died in 2019 at the age of 99.)

"My dream is that I will stay on the court as long as he did," she said in an NPR interview.

At the time, Ginsburg said she had no regrets about her decades-long career.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
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"I do think I was born under a very bright star," she said. "I get out of law schools with top grades; no law firm in the city of New York will hire me; I end up with a teaching job and time to devote to evening out the rights of women and men."

During a 2018 talk at Columbia University’s Law School, Ginsburg spoke of what she loved most in life.

“The tremendous luck I have had, I am a very lucky woman, starting with my dear spouse and my family, two children of whom I am very proud,” she said. “I love beautiful music, I love the work I do. I think I have the best job in the world for a lawyer.”

In addition to her two children, Jane Carol Ginsburg and James Steven Ginsburg, the late justice is survived by four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Ginsburg's husband, Martin David Ginsburg, died in 2010.

A private interment service for Ginsburg is scheduled to be held at Arlington National Cemetery.