The statement marked the first salvo in what is certain to be a fierce political fight over whether Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate decide Ginsburg’s successor. Replacing Ginsburg, one of the court’s liberal stalwarts, with a new right-leaning justice would give the court’s conservatives a firm 6-3 majority. Democrats have called for the Senate to wait until after the presidential election.

Ginsburg, too, said she did not want her seat to be filled until after the election, according to NPR. Days before she died in her Washington home of complications from metastatic pancreas cancer, she told her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Trump learned of Ginsburg’s death after speaking at a campaign rally in Minnesota. “She led an amazing life,” he said. “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.”

The latest:
  • Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris declared that she and her running mate, Joe Biden, “have a commitment that we will name to the United States Supreme Court a Black woman.”
  • Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted that Americans “should have a voice in the selection” of Ginsberg’s replacement. “Therefore,” he said, “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
  • Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said in a statement: “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.”
  • Trump’s recently updated list of people he would consider for a Supreme Court vacancy includes Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a McConnell protege, and three conservative GOP senators: Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.). The list also includes eight judges from the federal appeals courts.
  • “Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me,” former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted. “There will never be another like her. Thank you RBG.”
10:55 p.m.

‘What a distance we have traveled’: Ginsburg on America’s promise for all

On July 20, 1993, after becoming only the second woman ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee about how she saw the court, the country and herself. Ginsburg, who died Friday at 87 after a long battle with cancer, invoked Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and the progress America had made in living up to its ideals and its Constitution. Here is her statement:

I am, as you know from my responses to your questionnaire, a Brooklynite, born and bred — a first-generation American on my father’s side, barely second-generation on my mother’s. Neither of my parents had the means to attend college, but both taught me to love learning, to care about people, and to work hard for whatever I wanted or believed in. Their parents had the foresight to leave the old country, when Jewish ancestry and faith meant exposure to pogroms and denigration of one’s human worth. What has become of me could happen only in America. Like so many others, I owe so much to the entry this Nation afforded to people yearning to breathe free.

By Gillian Brockell
10:54 p.m.

Biden warns GOP-controlled Senate not to hold an election-year vote to fill Ginsburg’s seat

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden warned the Republican-controlled Senate not to hold an election-year confirmation vote to fill Ginsburg’s seat.

“Tonight and in the coming days we should focus on the loss of the justice and her enduring legacy. But there is no doubt — let me be clear — that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” he told reporters in a hastily arranged appearance late Friday.

Biden said he learned the news of Ginsburg’s death on the plane ride back to Delaware from a campaign trip to Minnesota.

He praised Ginsburg as a “voice for freedom and opportunity for everyone.” He called her “fierce and unflinching” in her pursuit of civil and legal rights.

“It’s hard to believe but it was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearing,” said Biden, who served in the Senate and helmed the Judiciary Committee.

By Sean Sullivan
10:46 p.m.

American flag lowered in front of Supreme Court as crowds gather

The American flag outside the Supreme Court on Friday night.
The American flag outside the Supreme Court on Friday night. (Alexander Drago/Reuters)

The American flag was already lowered to half-staff outside the Supreme Court as a small crowd began to gather at the steps of the plaza minutes after the news of Ginsburg’s death hit social media.

Each of the bollards protecting the courthouse supported a mourner slumped to the ground. It was quiet, and an occasional breeze brushed the listless flag. Two women embraced. A man hugged a woman as she quietly sobbed. A corgi stopped pulling on its leash while its owner stood in silence.

“What’s this? Is it because a judge died?” a tween boy asked the woman he was strolling with as they approached the gathering.

“It’s not just a judge. It was Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She wasn’t just a judge,” the woman replied.

By 9:30 p.m., the crowd had swelled to at least 1,000 people.

They gathered in small groups, some crying, others holding flowers or candles. A few clutched posters, including one woman whose hand-drawn sign portrayed Ginsberg as a saint. Sporadic song and applause rang out over the murmur of the growing crowd and bubbling fountains.

People gather at the Supreme Court to mourn Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
People gather at the Supreme Court to mourn Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
By Petula Dvorak and Michael Miller
10:43 p.m.

Trump reacts to Ginsburg’s death: ‘I’m actually saddened to hear that’

Trump: Justice Ginsburg was an ‘amazing woman’
After leaving the stage at a rally on Sept. 18, President Trump said he was “saddened” to hear of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Reuters)

President Trump reacted to Ginsburg’s death after leaving the stage at a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minn.

“She led an amazing life,” Trump said. “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 saddened to hear that.”

By Derek Hawkins and Amy B Wang
10:41 p.m.

Pelosi says Ginsburg’s replacement should be committed to ’equality, opportunity and justice for all’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference Friday in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg News)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference Friday in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg News)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Ginsburg’s death an “incalculable loss for our democracy” and said her replacement on the Supreme Court should share her values.

“We must honor Justice Ginsburg’s trailblazing career and safeguard her powerful legacy by ensuring that the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court upholds her commitment to equality, opportunity and justice for all,” Pelosi wrote in a statement.

Pelosi nodded at Ginsburg’s status as a legal and feminist icon and said Ginsburg’s “tenacity, towering intellect and devotion to the American promise of equality and opportunity for all” was inspirational.

Ginsburg’s work as an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, her arguments before the Supreme Court and her more than 25 years of service as a justice “leaves an enduring legacy of progress for all women,” Pelosi added.

“Her opinions have unequivocally cemented the precedent that all men and women are created equal,” Pelosi said.

By Marisa Iati
10:39 p.m.

Ginsburg said her ‘most fervent wish’ was for a new president to choose her replacement

Days before she died, Ginsburg told her granddaughter that she felt strongly that her Supreme Court seat not be filled until after the presidential election, according to NPR.

“My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” she dictated in a statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera.

Ginsburg’s death is likely to spark fierce debate about whether the Senate should push to confirm a new justice before the Jan. 20 inauguration.

Trump recently revealed Republican Sens. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) were on his shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees if he were to win a second term in office. The announcement, less than two months before the election, was intended to motivate Trump’s supporters to turn out to vote.

Without Ginsburg, the Supreme Court has five justices with conservative judicial philosophies and three with liberal philosophies.

By Marisa Iati
10:13 p.m.

Trump, seemingly still unaware of Ginsburg’s death, tells rally crowd the next president will have ‘anywhere from 1 to 4’ Supreme Court vacancies

Trump: Next president will get ‘one, two, three or four’ Supreme Court picks
At a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minn., on Sept. 18, President Trump said the next president could have anywhere from “one to four” Supreme Court nominations. (The Washington Post)

More than 90 minutes after news of Ginsburg’s death broke, President Trump — speaking at a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minn. — seemingly remained unaware of the news.

While closing out the rally, however, Trump alluded to the importance of the Supreme Court’s direction in the upcoming election.

“We will nominate judges and justices who interpret the Constitution as written,” Trump told the crowd, to cheers and shouts.

He told his supporters that the next president “will have anywhere from one to four” vacancies on the Supreme Court to fill.

“Think of that,” Trump said, warning that conservatives would be “stuck” for decades with a Supreme Court they did not like if the Democrats won in the fall. “This is going to be the most important election, in my opinion, in the history of our country.”

“Four more years!” the crowd chanted.

By Amy B Wang
10:12 p.m.

McConnell pledges a Senate vote on Trump’s nominee

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell affirmed he would push for a vote on the nominee of Trump’s choosing, citing Republican electoral victories in 2016 and 2018.

In a statement eulogizing the accomplishments of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, McConnell (R-Ky.) also vowed to ensure Trump’s pick for her seat is voted on by the Senate — which Senate Republicans refused to do when President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland.

“In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term,” McConnell wrote. “We kept our promise.”

In 2016, McConnell said “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”

However, since then, when he was posed the hypothetical, McConnell said Trump should be able to fill the seat should the same situation arise.

McConnell argued in his statement Friday that no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year since the 1880s.

“By contrast, Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” he wrote. “Once again, we will keep our promise.”

By Meryl Kornfield
10:09 p.m.

Republican politicians call Ginsburg a ‘trailblazer’ and a ‘pioneer’

Republican members of Congress and other politicians expressed condolences to Ginsburg’s family on Friday, with little initial mention of the political ramifications of her death.

“Joining the whole nation tonight in mourning the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — a trailblazer, a dedicated public servant, and an inspiration to so many,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows wrote on Twitter. “My prayers are with her family and friends.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ga.), whom President Trump recently suggested nominating for the Supreme Court, said he extended his condolences. “She dedicated her life to public service, and now she is at peace,” Cotton tweeted.

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) called Ginsburg a “pioneer who paved the way for women across America.”

“As a strong and fearless female leader and dedicated public servant, Justice Ginsburg served our country with honor and distinction,” wrote Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). “Her towering legacy will be remembered for generations to come.”

“Justice Ginsburg’s death adds to the tragedies of 2020,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said on Twitter. “While Americans mourn, we can also celebrate her pursuit of justice, her service to country and the gracious resilience with which she lived.”

Among few prominent Republicans to mention the empty Supreme Court seat was Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), who tweeted from her campaign account that her prayers were with Ginsburg’s family.

“Our country’s future is at stake & @realDonaldTrump has every right to pick a new justice before the election,” Loeffler added. “I look forward to supporting a strict constructionist who will protect the right to life & safeguard our conservative values.”

By Marisa Iati
10:07 p.m.

Trump’s updated list of Supreme Court candidates

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in May.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in May. (Andrew Harnik/AFP/Getty Images)

The president recently added 20 names to a running list of people he said he would consider for a Supreme Court vacancy.

Among those added to Trump’s list last week were Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a McConnell protege, and three conservative GOP senators: Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Tex.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.).

The list also includes eight judges from the federal appeals courts: Bridget Bade of the 9th Circuit, Kyle Duncan of the 5th Circuit, James Ho of the 5th Circuit, Gregory Katsas of the D.C. Circuit, Barbara Lagoa of the 11th Circuit, Peter Phipps of the 3rd Circuit, Allison Jones Rushing of the 4th Circuit and Lawrence VanDyke of the 9th Circuit.

Among Trump’s top candidates would be Amy Coney Barrett, 48, who was a finalist for the most recent Supreme Court vacancy that went to Brett M. Kavanaugh in 2018. Barrett is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

By Donna Cassata
9:59 p.m.

Harris, before learning of Ginsburg’s death, vows to nominate a Black woman

On an Instagram Live session with singer Lizzo moments before news of Ginsburg’s death broke, Democratic vice-presidential candidate Kamala D. Harris declared that she and her running mate, Joe Biden, “have a commitment that we will name to the United States Supreme Court a Black woman. We’ve never had a Black woman on the United States Supreme Court — you hear me?”

By Chelsea Janes
9:58 p.m.

Schumer: ‘This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president’

By J. Freedom du Lac
9:46 p.m.

Hillary Clinton, Democrats mourn, rally to preserve her seat for 2020 winner

As the news of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing rippled across Democratic circles Friday night, party leaders mourned a legend and prepared for the inevitable fight over who will fill her seat.

“Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me,” former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted. “There will never be another like her. Thank you RBG.”

“She has been a beacon of justice during her long and remarkable career,” former president Jimmy Carter wrote in a statement. “I was proud to have appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980.”

“NY’s heart breaks with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wrote on Twitter. “During her extraordinary career, this Brooklyn native broke barriers & the letters RBG took on new meaning—as battle cry & inspiration. Her legal mind & dedication to justice leave an indelible mark on America.”

“We have lost a giant among us. A trailblazer. And a champion of equality and justice,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote on Twitter. “Our hearts ache tonight. Let us honor her memory by preserving the very ideals she fought so tirelessly for.”

Minutes after, the Democratic governor shared another thought: “VOTE.”

As the 2020 presidential election looms, Democratic leaders predicted the solemn news will be the onset of a battle with President Trump and Republicans. Several cited the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, when Republican Senate leaders argued Scalia’s seat should be left vacant during an election year.

“As to the appointment of Justice Ginsburg’s successor, I couldn’t improve on what Mitch McConnell said after Justice Scalia’s death: The American people must have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement.

Mentioning Scalia, the office of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he will wait until the next inauguration before considering a nominee.

“In light of the Scalia precedent and the fact that voting is already underway in multiple states, Senator Kaine believes the Senate should wait until after the next inauguration before considering a nominee to fill this vacancy,” the statement said. “He will do everything he can to ensure that this Supreme Court seat is not filled until then.”

“Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat would not be filled until a new president is installed,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) wrote on Twitter. “Senate Democrats, do not back down. You have a tough fight ahead but our future is on the line! No SCOTUS appointment before the election!!!

By Meryl Kornfield
9:44 p.m.

Trump, rallying in Minn., appeared to be unaware of Ginsburg news

One person remained apparently unaware of the news of Ginsburg’s death: President Trump.

He was in the middle of a rally in Bemidji, Minn., when NPR sent out an alert at 7:29 p.m. Eastern time.

As the news quickly spread of Ginsburg’s death, Trump was giving a characteristically unscripted speech onstage, re-litigating the 2016 election and mocking Hillary Clinton. For at least an hour, he touched on just about every topic except the Supreme Court: He bragged about not needing to use a teleprompter and about how he could be home “living a life of luxury” but instead was working for the American people. He mocked Joe Biden and Kamala D. Harris, at one point spending a minute pondering the pronunciation of her name.

“You’re getting a very unique speech tonight,” Trump said.

By Amy B Wang
9:26 p.m.

George W. Bush: ‘Justice Ginsburg loved our country and the law’

In a statement, former president George W. Bush said he and his wife, Laura, were joining the nation “in mourning the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

“She dedicated many of her 87 remarkable years to the pursuit of justice and equality, and she inspired more than one generation of women and girls,” the statement said. “Justice Ginsburg loved our country and the law. Laura and I are fortunate to have known this smart and humorous trailblazer, and we send our condolences to the Ginsburg family.”

By J. Freedom du Lac