State, federal leaders react to death of iconic Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

American icon paved the way for countless women

FILE - In this Aug. 10, 1993, file photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes the court oath from Chief Justice William Rehnquist, right, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Ginsburg's husband Martin holds the Bible and President Bill Clinton watches at left. The Supreme Court says Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander, File) (Marcy Nighswander, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87.

Several leaders and groups at the state and federal level have issued statements in response to the American icon’s death. You can read the reactions below.

“I am truly heartbroken at the news of Justice Ginsburg’s passing. Her intellect, her razor sharp wit, and her lifetime of service to our nation made her an inspiration to millions of Americans. I know there are a lot of women who are feeling worried right now about what this means for the future of our country. One thing I learned watching Justice Ginsburg’s fearless battles with cancer and injustice is that you never give up, and you never stop fighting for the values we hold dear as Americans. The best way to honor Justice Ginsburg’s memory is by making our voices heard at the ballot box this November. Register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and return it quickly. Let us turn our grief into action, let us choose hope over fear, and let us find the strength to build a stronger America for everyone.” -- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a warrior for justice, a champion for women’s rights, and a fighter for peace. As a Justice of the Supreme Court, she was wise and patient. Her decisions changed the course of history and we are all better having had her serve on the highest court. Our thoughts are with her family and friends today. Rest well, Justice Ginsburg.” -- Michigan Democratic Party

“Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a trailblazer and a fighter for women’s rights. While I did not always agree with her politics, I appreciate all that she accomplished during her distinguished career and the service she rendered to our nation. Her family and friends will be in my prayers during the days ahead.” --Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg served on our nation’s highest court with distinction, honor, and class. She was a feminist firebrand who inspired women all over the world to reach the highest heights, to fight the fiercest fights, and to never back down from what is right. I will miss her on the Supreme Court, I will miss her in life, and on the proverbial battlefield. May she truly Rest In Peace for many jobs well done.” -- Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born at the depths of the Great Depression, and has passed at what we hope will be the nadir of many crises facing our country and working people around the world. Make no mistake: we have seen some tough fights in the past, and Justice Bader Ginsburg answered the call for working folks time and again. May she rest in power, and may we learn from her legacy and resolve to keep fighting for those who need us to answer that call, now and for years to come.” -- Ron Bieber, President of the Michigan AFL-CIO

“Tonight, the American people lost a giant. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a champion of equal rights, a stalwart defender of our democracy, and a trailblazer who bent the moral arc of the universe each and every day. Our nation was safer in her hands, and we owe Ruth Bader Ginsburg a debt of gratitude for her 40 years of service on the federal bench. The American people deserve a choice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice, and we will hold Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell accountable to ensure that happens.” -- American Bridge 21st Century President Bradley Beychok

"Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing is a profound loss for our country. Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who dedicated her life to the pursuit of equality and justice for all. As an attorney, she brought a series of successful cases to the Supreme Court that helped to establish constitutional protections against sex discrimination. Later, as the second woman ever appointed to the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg’s voice was one of great moral clarity and purpose. Throughout her decades on the bench, Justice Ginsburg was a champion of women’s rights, gay rights and human rights. Her court opinions were always rooted in the belief that every American should be treated equally under the law. The American people should 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. That isn’t just my opinion—those are words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in 2016, when he blocked President Obama’s Supreme Court appointment in an election year. Pushing to fill Justice Ginsburg’s vacancy before the November election would be hypocritical and politicize the nation’s highest court.” -- Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05)

"Tonight we have lost an incredible voice for justice. As a lawyer and professor, Justice Ginsburg broke barriers for women. As a Justice of the Supreme Court, she helped build a better nation for all Americans. Justice Ginsburg spent her lifetime working to protect our people and our democracy. We must honor her legacy by continuing her fight. My heart goes out to Justice Ginsburg’s family and friends. She truly was a national treasure.” -- Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow

“The loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left so many of us without words. Justice Ginsburg was a pioneer in the women’s rights movement. Her landmark opinions advanced the rights of women, immigrants, and disabled people and moved our imperfect nation closer to achieving equality and justice for all. As the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, she was a trailblazer who changed the face of our nation’s highest legal body. She dedicated her life to women’s rights and equality and her time as general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union was a high watermark for the ACLU. She was one of the most brilliant legal minds our country has ever seen. But Ruth Ginsburg was so much more than a Supreme Court Justice. She was a role model and an icon for a generation of young women who learned from her fiery dissents and sharp humor that women deserved to be heard, respected, and represented in the highest level of our nation’s judiciary. Justice Ginsburg was a paragon for the Jewish community, embodying the commitment to justice, kindness, and equality that defines so much of Jewish life. To lose Justice Ginsburg on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, a time when Jews come together to reflect and reinvigorate their commitment to faith and community is terribly bittersweet. The loss of such a powerful woman who left an indelible mark on the legal field is truly painful. But Justice Ginsburg was notoriously tough and never faltered in her pursuit of justice. In her words, “We live in an age in which the fundamental principles to which we subscribe - liberty, equality and justice for all - are encountering extraordinary challenges... But it is also an age in which we can join hands with others who hold to those principles and face similar challenges.” What choice do we really have but to heed Notorious RBG’s advice and continue building the more equitable, inclusive world she envisioned and embodied?” -- Democratic Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09)

“On behalf of the Department of Justice, I extend my deepest sympathy on the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg led one of the great lives in the history of American law. She was a brilliant and successful litigator, an admired court of appeals judge, and a profoundly influential Supreme Court Justice. For all her achievements in those roles, she will perhaps be remembered most for inspiring women in the legal profession and beyond. She and I did not agree on every issue, but her legal ability, personal integrity, and determination were beyond doubt. She leaves a towering legacy, and all who seek justice mourn her loss.” -- Attorney General William Barr

"The NAACP family is devastated by the passing tonight of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was an incredibly accomplished civil rights lawyer who devoted her entire legal career to the pursuit of equal justice and eliminating discrimination of all types. When President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court, he called her the “Thurgood Marshall of gender equality law.” Justice Ginsburg’s 27-year tenure on the Supreme Court was marked by a passion for justice and the rule of the law. Her long, remarkable record includes her legendary opinions involving disability rights in Olmstead v. LC, and gender equality in the military, the United States v. Virginia. She was also known for her powerful dissents, many of which she delivered from the bench. These include dissents in the voting rights decision of Shelby County v. Holder, the gender equity case of Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire Company Co., and the affirmative action case of Ricci v. Stefano. Our nation has lost its north star for justice tonight. As we move forward in the weeks and months ahead, we must honor Justice Ginsburg’s memory and extraordinary contributions and remember that the Supreme Court is the ultimate guardian of all of our civil rights and liberties.” -- NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson

“On behalf of the Office of the Solicitor General, we mourn the loss of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Ginsburg was rightly renowned among people of all backgrounds, but she has a special significance to Supreme Court lawyers. She was herself a pathmarking advocate before the Court in landmark equal-protection cases in the 1970s. And during her 40 years on the Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit, she was equally formidable from the other side of the lectern. She was an incisive questioner, a clear and careful writer, and a model of dignity and civility. In the process, Justice Ginsburg served as an inspiration to this office, the Supreme Court bar, and far beyond. I extend our deepest condolences to her family, her colleagues on the Court, her former law clerks, and all who knew and admired her.” -- Acting Solicitor General Jeffery B. Wall

“Justice Ginsburg was not just a consummate jurist and litigator. Ruth Bader Ginsburg will always be remembered as a pillar of the movement for civil rights and women’s rights. She is one of a handful of greats this country has produced who through her steadfast determination, strength of character and clarity of vision, changed the trajectory of countless lives, especially the lives of women. We are forever in her debt. The Michigan Civil Rights Commission was created by the Michigan Constitution to safeguard constitutional and legal guarantees against discrimination. The Commission is charged with investigating alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin, genetic information, sex, age, marital status, height, weight, arrest record, and physical and mental disability. The Michigan Department of Civil Rights serves as the operational arm of the Commission." -- Stacie Clayton, Chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission

“Absolutely heartbreaking news. Justice Ginsburg was a tireless trailblazer for women and for all without a voice. She will forever be remembered for her devotion to justice and equality & speaking truth to power. Colleen and I send our condolences to Justice Ginsburg’s family.” -- Michigan US Democratic Sen. Gary Peters

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About the Authors:

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.