First Lady Melania Trump has offered her prayers for the family of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying that the spirit of the jurist, who earned the name of “Notorious RGB,” will live on in people she had inspired.
“Justice’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing is a[n] immense loss,” Trump wrote in a statement on Saturday. “Her tenacity & strength were matched by her intellect & compassion, & her spirit will live on in all she has inspired. My prayers are with her family & all who loved her.”
Ginsburg passed away on Friday night surrounded by her family in her home in Washington. She died of complications from cancer at 87 years old. She had served 27 years on the court.
Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Supreme Court to mourn her death and honor her life, leaving flowers, small U.S. flags, prayer candles, and handwritten messages on the court’s steps. She has been described as a trailblazer and an inspiration for women, and has been recognized for her legal prowess.
President Donald Trump had issued a proclamation in the early hours of Saturday directing that all flags at the White House and public buildings and grounds, and military facilities, be flown at half-staff until Ginsburg is interred. Trump also directed that the flags be flown at half-staff at all U.S. embassies and other facilities abroad.
In a written statement, the president said that “our nation mourns the loss of a titan of the law.”
“Renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one’s colleagues or different points of view,” he said. “Her opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds.”
Trump’s family members have also offered their condolences.
“Justice Ginsburg was a remarkable woman with an astonishing work ethic. She was a warrior with true conviction and she has my absolute respect!” Eric Trump wrote in a statement on Twitter.
“RIP Justice Ginsburg. Agree with her or not, she was a true trailblazer and fighter until the end,” Donald Trump Jr. also wrote.
Meanwhile, Tiffany Trump, who graduated from Georgetown Law School, expressed her appreciation for Ginsburg, saying “Thank you, Justice Ginsburg for being a trailblazer for women in the legal field, a pioneer for women and gender equality, and for showing that patriotism hinges not on agreement, but on the unwavering commitment to persevere, to listen, to learn, and to develop together.”
She also reflected on Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia’s friendship and work relationship, saying that the two icons of different ideologies sought to defend the Constitution on how they believe it was intended by the founders while they also shared a “unique bond” of “dedicating their life to advancing this country.”
“May we learn from your devout commitment to justice so that we, too, may find extraordinary (and perhaps surprising) friendships among our fellow Americans, and continue your work to build a better and more just nation,” she wrote.
Supreme Court Justices Pay Tribute
Ginsburg’s eight colleagues on the bench as well as two retired justices, Justices David H. Souter and Anthony M. Kennedy issued statements on Saturday to pay tribute to the jurist.
“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,” Chief Justice John Roberts said.
Justice Clarence Thomas said he was “heartbroken to learn of the passing” of his friend.
“Through the many challenges both professionally and personally, she was the essence of grace, civility, and dignity. She was a superb judge who gave her best and exacted the best from each of us, whether in agreement or disagreement. And, as outstanding as she was as a judge, she was an even better colleague–unfailingly gracious, thoughtful, and civil,” he said.
Justice Stephen Breyer said he learnt of her death while reciting the Mourner’s Kaddish at the Rosh Hashanah service. At the time he thought, “a great Justice;
a woman of valor; a rock of righteousness; and my good, good friend.”
He continued, “The world is a better place for her having lived in it. And so is her family; her friends; the legal community; and the nation.”
Justice Samuel A. Alito said he was saddened by the news, adding that he will certainly miss her.
“Justice Ginsburg will go down as a leading figure in the history of the Court. She will be remembered for her intelligence, learning, and remarkable fortitude. She has been and will continue to be an inspiration for many,” Alito said.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan both called Ginsburg a hero in their statements.
“She spent her life fighting for the equality of all people, and she was 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,” Sotomayor said.
“As a judge, she did justice every day—working to ensure that this country’s legal system lives up to its ideals and extends its rights and protections to those once excluded. And in both roles, she held to—indeed, exceeded—the highest standards of legal craft. Her work was as careful as it was creative, as disciplined as it was visionary. It will endure for as long as Americans retain their commitment to law,” Kagan said.
Justice Neil Gorsuch said Ginsburg served the American people “as one of our most distinguished judges” for forty years.
“Her sacrifices for the country were many, but always performed with honor. We are blessed by the happy memories that will remain, like traveling with Ruth to London where (to her delight) an uninformed guide kept calling her ‘Ruthie,’ or all the opera she tried so valiantly to teach me, or her sweet tooth at lunch, or the touching stories of her remarkable life with Marty,” Gorsuch said.
Meanwhile, Justice Brett Kavanaugh remembered Ginsburg as a justice with an “unparalleled work ethic and devotion to the law.”
“No American has ever done more than Justice Ginsburg to ensure equal justice under law for women. She was a cherished colleague, and she inspired me, and all of us, with her unparalleled work ethic and devotion to the law. A meticulous and pathmarking judge, she held herself to the highest standards of precision and accuracy in her beautifully crafted opinions. And she inspired all of us to try to meet those same exacting standards. I learned from her principled voice and marveled at her wonderful wit at our weekly conferences and daily lunches,” Kavanaugh said.
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.