(The Center Square) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leading progressive on the nation's highest court, died Friday due to complications from pancreatic cancer. She was 87.
Ginsburg was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the court in 1983 and quickly became a cult hero among liberals for her outspoken support of their causes.
"Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature," Chief Justice John Roberts said in announcing her death. "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 tired and resolute champion of justice."
Before joining the high court, Ginsburg often argued cases before it, most notably on women's rights issues. She also championed gay rights, abortion rights and voting rights, as well as restrictions on the death penalty.
After joining the court, she earned the nickname “Notorious R.B.G.” for her powerful dissents when she ended up in the minority.
Ginsburg's death sets up an almost certainly contentious fight between Democrats and President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans over her replacement with the presidential election less than two months away.
Days before her death, National Public Radio reported that Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter about that very scenario: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
Four years ago, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked President Barack Obama's nomination of liberal Merrick Garland from filling the late Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court during a presidential election year, saying voters should be given the choice of who should pick the nominee. That led to the appointment of conservative Neil Gorsuch, whom Trump later nominated.
McConnell has said that he would push through a Trump nominee if given the opportunity.