U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday praised the “amazing life” of U.S. Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, after learning of her death while on the campaign trail in the state of Minnesota.
“She’s just died? Wow, I didn’t know that,” Trump said. “She led an amazing life. Whether you agree or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life.”
Trump was informed of the passing of the 87-year-old Supreme Court judge at the end of a campaign meeting in the town of Bemidji, Minnesota, a few minutes before entering the presidential plane.
The U.S. flag was flown at half-mast at the White House in honour of Justice Ginsberg, known by her initials, “RBG”, presidential spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany said, describing her as “a pioneer for women.” She was the first Jewish female judge to be appointed to the U.S. supreme court in 1993.
Flags were also flown at half-mast at the U.S. Congress, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, announced.
Hundreds of people began massing outside the U.S. Supreme Court building, close to Congress, from Friday night, bearing lighted candles, to pay homage to Justice Ginsburg, an icon of the U.S. left, French news agency AFP reported.
RBG’s death paves the way for an intense political battle less than seven weeks to presidential elections scheduled for 3 November.
Until her passing, the nine-member Supreme Court was made up of five justices nominated by Republican presidents and four nominated by Democratic heads of state.
Democrats fear Trump will move to replace Ginsberg with a conservative nominee before the polls.
The Republican Speaker of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, announced on Friday night that he would move forward on filling the seat whenever the president puts forward a candidate.
“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” he said in a statement.
The Brussels Times