Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dead at 87

What you need to know: Ruth Bader Ginsburg

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday. She was 87.

Ginsburg died of “complications of metastatic pancreas cancer,” the Supreme Court said in a statement.

Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court in August 1993 by President Bill Clinton, filling the seat held by Byron “Whizzer” White. She was the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court.

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In a statement, the court said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, surrounded by family.

“Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “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.”

“{With the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, America has lost one of the most extraordinary Justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court,” Clinton said Friday night.

Ginsburg was a strong advocate for women’s rights as a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s, NPR reported. She served 27 years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member.

Ginsburg rose to the top of her class at Columbia Law School during the 1950s, The Washington Post reported. In 1993, she became the second woman on the high court. Ginsburg’s “Notorious RBG” nickname graced T-shirts and coffee mugs, the newspaper reported.

That was a nod to the rapper Notorious B.I.G. The justice once said, “We were both born and bred in Brooklyn, New York,” she liked to say.

Ginsburg also was the subject of a popular film documentary, “RBG,” in 2018.

Ginsburg’s death will give Donald Trump the opportunity to name her successor, The New York Times reported. Senate Republicans have promised to try to fill the vacancy during the waning days of his first term.

Doctors discovered lesions on Ginsburg’s liver in May. She had surgery for lung cancer and radiation treatment for pancreatic cancer. She had surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2009 and was treated for colon cancer in 1999, the Times reported.

“I have often said I would remain a member of the Court as long as I can do the job full steam,” Ginsburg said in a statement two months ago. " I remain fully able to do that."

Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn in 1933, graduated from Cornell in 1954 and began law school at Harvard, the newspaper reported. After moving to New York with her husband, she transferred to Columbia, where she earned her law degree. After that, she began her legal work as a lawyer for the ACLU.

“I had the good fortune to be alive and a lawyer in the late 1960s when, for the first time in the history of the United States, it became possible to urge before courts, successfully, that society would benefit enormously if women were regarded as persons equal in stature to men,'” Ginsburg said in a commencement speech in 2002.

At the Supreme Court, she was perhaps best known for the opinion she wrote in United States v. Virginia, CNN reported. It was a decision that held that the all-male admissions policy at the state-funded Virginia Military Institute was unconstitutional for its ban on women applicants.

“The constitutional violation in this case is the categorical exclusion of women from an extraordinary educational opportunity afforded men,” she wrote in 1996.

Leaving a campaign stop in Bemidji, Minnesota, Trump was surprised to hear about Ginsburg’s death.

“She just died? Wow. I didn’t know that, you’re telling me now for the first time,” Trump told reporters. “She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not she was an amazing woman, who led an amazing life. I’m actually sad to hear that.”