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US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies aged 87

Ginsburg, a stalwart liberal on the U.S. Supreme Court since 1993, died on Friday at age 87, the court said, giving President Donald Trump a chance to expand its conservative majority.

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies aged 87
NICHOLAS KAMM AFP

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,a stalwart liberal on the U.S. Supreme Court since 1993, died on Friday at age 87, the court said, giving President Donald Trump a chance to expand its conservative majority with a third appointment at a time of deep divisions in America with a presidential election in November.

Ginsbury, a champion of women's rights

Ginsburg, a champion of women's rights who became an icon for American liberals, died at her home in Washington of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said in a statement. She was surrounded by her family, the court said.

Her departure could dramatically alter the ideological balance of the court, which currently has a 5-4 conservative majority, by moving it further to the right.

"Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature," Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement. "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 tireless and resolute champion of justice."

Trump, seeking re-election on Nov. 3, already has appointed two conservatives to lifetime posts on the court, Neil Gorsuch in 2017 and Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Supreme Court appointments require Senate confirmation, and Trump's fellow Republicans control the chamber.

A private interment service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery, the court said, but did not specify a date.

Democratic Senate Leader echoes McConnell's 2016 words

When Justice Scalia died, 269 days before the November 2016 presidential election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "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.” Senate Republicans, following this line, then blocked Obama's nomination for the vacant position Merrick Garland, in what was a radical departure from the practice of considering nominees based on their individual merits.

The Republicans still control the Senate, meaning they, still led by McConnell will be able to ignore their 2016 position and approve Trump's third Supreme Court Justice prior to the November presidential election.

Echoing McConnell's words back in 2016, US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Friday the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should not be filled until there is a new president.

"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," he said on Twitter.

Mitch McConnell has already indicated he would not hold to his arguments of 2016 where the Republicans still controlled the Senate.