The 87-year-old Supreme Court justice died at her home Friday due to complications of metastatic cancer

By Sean Neumann
September 18, 2020 10:22 PM
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President Donald Trump and late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
| Credit: getty images (2)

President Donald Trump called the late, liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "an amazing woman" who lived "an amazing life," after hearing news of her death Friday night.

Trump was speaking at a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minnesota when news of Bader Ginsburg's death broke.

"She just died? Wow. I didn't know that," Trump, 74, said after a reporter asked for his reaction as he prepared to board Air Force One.

"She led an amazing life," the president continued. "What else can you say? She was an amazing woman, whether you agree or not. She was an amazing woman who led an amazing life. I'm actually sad to hear that."

Pool reporters at the campaign event say the news that Justice Ginsburg, 87, died at her Washington D.C. home, surrounded by family, broke about 10 minutes into Trump's 95-minute speech.

Trump did not mention the justice's death during his speech but did address the make up Supreme Court bench.

“We will nominate judges and justices who interpret the Constitution as written,” Trump did say during his speech, according to The Washington Post.

Trump said he didn't hear about the news until briefly speaking with reporters before boarding Air Force One.

The White House did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
| Credit: Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told reporters later that Ginsburg was "a giant of legal doctrine" who was "a relentless voice in the pursuit of that highest American ideal: Equal Justice Under Law."

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for all of us," Biden, 77, said. "She fought for all of us."

NPR reported that Ginsburg's final "fervent wish" before her death was that she not be replaced on the high court until a new president is elected.

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

ABC News reported that "multiple sources close to the president" say he will put forth a nominee to fill Ginsburg's vacant seat in the coming days.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed in a statement Friday night that the Senate would vote on Trump's nominee before the November 3 election, between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

"President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," McConnell's statement read.

Biden said "voters should pick a president, and that president should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
| Credit: Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post/Getty

McConnell, 78, infamously refused to bring a vote to the Senate floor on President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, ahead of the 2016 election.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, made an opposing statement Friday night.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," Schumer said. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

In 2016, McConnell had a similar response when he blocked a vote on Garland's nomination:

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," McConnell said then, according to Politico. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

Meanwhile, Ginsburg's colleagues on the Supreme Court mourned her death in a separate statement.

Ginsburg was the second woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court and her unwavering fight for women’s rights and social justice made her an icon to many admirers of the court’s liberal wing.

"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. "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."

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 from complications of metastatic cancer.

The Supreme Court added in its press release that a private interment service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery.