Leaders mourn death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; local vigil planned

Tributes have poured in the hours since U.S.Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of cancer, with Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and county Supervisor Janice Hahn among those hailing her as a legal pioneer who fought for women’s rights and gender equality for decades.

Hahn wrote: “To say I am heart broken isn’t enough. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a brilliant legal mind and an extraordinary champion for women. She gave us everything she could and her death is devastating.”

Local residents have planned a candlelight vigil, with social distancing, at 6:30 p.m. today in front of the Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, 275 Magnolia Ave.

“It’s really just a coming together of people who felt the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg so deeply yesterday, and we continue to mourn her loss,” said Jacqui Viale, a Long Beach resident helping organize the vigil. “We felt that was one of the last strings holding democracy together.”

Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, called her death “a devastating loss for our country.”

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a visionary leader on the Supreme Court, and a champion of equality and equity,” he said. “She changed America for the better. Her work will live on for many decades to come.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said the nation “lost a giant. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was shunned from courtrooms when she began her career because she was a woman. But she persisted, blazing a trail for millions of women and others who had been excluded or oppressed. RBG is a lioness of the law. She is irreplaceable.”

Ginsburg, who was 87, died at her Washington home of complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, the Supreme Court announced late Friday.

The second woman to serve on the high court was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Columbia Law School graduate taught at Rutgers and Columbia and was a fierce courtroom advocate of women’s rights, making her an iconic figure to feminists and earned her the nickname “Notorious RBG.”

While at the helm of the Women’s Rights Project of the American CivilLiberties Union in the 1970s, the Brooklyn native brought a series of cases before the court that helped establish constitutional protections against sex discrimination.

The leader of the court’s four-member liberal wing had repeatedly vowed to stay on the bench as long as her health permitted. In a statement she dictated to her granddaughter within days of her death, Ginsburg said her “fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

But President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, signaled they would try to seize the opportunity to name and confirm her successor in the final days of Trump’s first term.

Their intentions appear to contradict a precedent set by McConnell in 2016, when the Kentucky Republican refused to allow the Senate to vote on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the open seat left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland was nominated by Obama in March 2016, but McConnell insisted it wasn’t appropriate for the Senate to vote on a nominee in an election year and the seat remained vacant until it was filled byTrump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

McConnell is taking a different position in 2020.

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of theUnited States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement late Friday.

Staff reporter Sebastian Echeverry contributed to this report. 

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