Local leaders offered heartfelt tributes this week after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with Rep. Adam Schiff hailing her as a trailblazer and county Supervisor Kathryn Barger praising her legacy.
Ginsburg, who was 87, died at her Washington home of complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court announced late Friday.
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be remembered for the way she inspired, encouraged and advocated,” Barger said. “She leaves an unforgettable legacy that will be carried on by courageous women and girls for generations to come.”
Ginsburg was the second woman to serve on the high court after being nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Columbia Law School graduate taught at Rutgers Law School and Columbia and was a fierce courtroom advocate for women’s rights, becoming an icon for feminists and earning the nickname “Notorious RBG.”
Meanwhile, Schiff, who had met the justice a number of times during his career, 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.”
While at the helm of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s, the Brooklyn native brought a series of cases before the court that helped establish constitutional protections against sex discrimination.
Schiff recalled his relationship with Ginsburg, first through a House caucus on the judiciary, and again when he invited her to address how to improve the relationship between Congress and the courts.
“I’ve joined other meetings with her, heard her speak and watched her question counsel during oral argument. She was always so impressive,” he said, adding that his last encounter with her was most memorable.
“During the impeachment proceedings, on a cold and rainy night, I was rushing back into the Capitol and I nearly collided with her as she was walking out. I barely stopped myself in time. We said hello, and taking a deep breath, I stepped around her and inside. Two of my colleagues witnessed the near collision. They said, ‘Do you realize you just about ended your career?’ I said, ‘Yes, and what’s more, I would have deserved to.’ Rest in peace, Justice Ginsburg. You courageous giant. There will never be another like you.”
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.”
— City News Service contributed to this report.