A towering legal intellect. A model of strength and grace. A good friend.
That’s how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s colleagues say they will remember the 27-year veteran of the nation’s highest court.
The eight remaining Supreme Court justices issued a joint statement Saturday sharing their memories of Ginsburg; praising her accomplishments as a lawyer, academic and jurist; and offering condolences to her family.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan described Ginsburg as a “hero” and a mentor, saying she left an unrivaled legacy of advancing women’s rights.
“She welcomed me to the Court with a warmth I could not have expected, and I came to feel a special kinship with her,” Sotomayor said. “She was someone whose wisdom, kindness, and unwavering support I could always rely on.”
Kagan, who previously served as the first female solicitor general of the United States, said Ginsburg assisted her in her career long before she was nominated to the court and guided her once they became colleagues.
“I will miss her — her intellect, her generosity, her sly wit, her manifest integrity, and her endless capacity for work — for the rest of my life,” Kagan said.
Justice Clarence Thomas recalled how he met Ginsburg in 1990 and served with her for decades, watching with admiration as she navigated professional and personal challenges, including the death of her husband in 2010.
“She was the essence of grace, civility and dignity,” Thomas said. “Not once did the pace and quality of her work suffer even as she was obviously suffering grievously. Nor did her demeanor toward her colleagues diminish.”
Justice Neil M. Gorsuch remembered how Ginsburg tried to teach him opera — she was a devout fan of the art form — and how she was tickled during a trip to London when an “uninformed guide” kept calling her “Ruthie.”
The justices also lauded her deep passion for the law.
“She will be remembered for her intelligence, learning, and remarkable fortitude,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said.
Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh said he learned from her “principled voice and marveled at her wonderful wit at our weekly conferences and daily lunches.”
“Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” said Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
Retired justices also paid tribute.
Anthony M. Kennedy, who left the court in 2018, called Ginsburg a dear friend. Even when they disagreed, he said, it was always civil and respectful. “By her dignity, she taught respect for others and her love for America,” Kennedy said. “By her reverence for the Constitution, she taught us to preserve it to secure our freedom.”
Former justice David H. Souter, who retired in 2009, said Ginsburg “achieved greatness before she became a great justice.”
“I loved her to pieces,” he said.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined the court almost exactly one year after Ginsburg did and served alongside her for more than a quarter-century. He said he learned of her death at Rosh Hashanah service. His remembrance read like a poem:
“A great Justice; a woman of valour; a rock of righteousness; and my good, good friend.
The world is a better place for her having lived in it.”