Ten current and former Supreme Court Justices released statements Friday evening following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, praising the late justice for her trailblazing life and talking about her role on the court and in their own lives.
Justice Clarence Thomas, an appointee from a Republican president who has served on the court since 1991, referred to Ginsburg as “the essence of grace, civility and dignity,” and 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.”
Justice Brett Kavanaugh praised Ginsburg as a “cherished colleague” who “inspired me, and all of us, with her unparalleled work ethic and devotion to the law.” Kavanaugh, who was the first Supreme Court justice to bring on exclusively female law clerks back in 2018—which earned him praise from Ginsburg—particularly emphasized in his statement the late justice’s inspiration to women in the field of law.
“When Justice Ginsburg was last in my office earlier this year, I pointed out a photo I keep of her standing with four women who served as law clerks in my chambers in my first term. As long as I am fortunate enough to serve on the Supreme Court, I will keep that photo prominently in my office as a continuing tribute to Justice Ginsburg and as a daily reminder to work hard and pursue equal justice,” said Kavanaugh.
The 87-year old Supreme Court justice died Friday after a battle with metastatic pancreatic cancer, the Supreme Court said in a statement Friday evening. Ginsburg had battled cancer on several different occasions, including a treatment for recurrent cancer back in May that was revealed in July of this year.
Even through these health challenges, said Thomas, Ginsburg was “a picture of grace and courage. Not once did the pace and quality of her work suffer even as she was obviously suffering grievously. Nor did her demeanor toward her colleagues diminish.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s first appointee, wrote of personal anecdotes with the late justice, saying: “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.”
Justice Sonia Sotomayor called Ginsburg an “American hero,” saying: “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.”
Justice Stephen Breyer, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton shortly after Ginsburg, wrote in his brief statement that the late justice was a “woman of valour,” while Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, said that the nation had “lost a jurist of historic stature.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in 2018, wrote that she would have an “esteemed place in the history of our Court.” Justice David Souter, an appointee of George H. W. Bush who retired in 2009, said that Ginsburg “achieved greatness before she became a great justice,” and that he “loved her to pieces.” Justice Elena Kagan, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said that she would miss Ginsburg for the rest of her life, and praised her work as a lawyer.
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