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Current, former presidents react to Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death

A card thanking Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lays on the steps of the United States Supreme Court. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI
A card thanking Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lays on the steps of the United States Supreme Court. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Female members of Congress stand on the steps of the U.S. Capitol as the flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is carried by a joint services military honor guard after Ginsburg lied in state at the U.S. Capitol on September 25. Pool Photo by Alex Brandon/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 19 (UPI) -- In the hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, all current and former U.S. presidents issued statements on the liberal stalwart's legacy.

Ginsburg died Friday after a years-long battle with cancer. She was 87.

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Here are their words:

Former President Bill Clinton

Clinton was the president who nominated Ginsburg to be the second woman on the nation's highest court in 1993. He commented on her death in a statement on the Clinton Foundation website:

"With the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, America has lost one of the most extraordinary justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court. She was a magnificent judge and a wonderful person -- a brilliant lawyer with a caring heart, common sense, fierce devotion to fairness and equality, and boundless courage in the face of her own adversity.

"Her 27 years on the Court exceeded even my highest expectations when I appointed her. Her landmark opinions advancing gender equality, marriage equality, the rights of people with disabilities, the rights of immigrants, and so many more moved us closer to 'a more perfect union.' Her powerful dissents, especially her ringing defense of voting rights and other equal protection claims, reminded us that we walk away from our Constitution's promise at our peril. And she did it all with kindness, grace, and calm, treating even her strongest adversaries with respect.

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"Hillary and I will miss her terribly, and will be forever grateful for her life's work and her friendship. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jane, James, their families, and everyone across America who looked to Justice Ginsburg for guidance, inspiration, and strength."

President Donald Trump

Late Friday, the president ordered the U.S. flag to be flown at half staff until the day of her interment. He also issued a statement:

"Today, our nation mourns the loss of a titan of the law. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg served more than 27 years as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States -- notably just the second woman to be appointed to the court. She was a loving wife to her late husband, Martin, and a dedicated mother to her two children.

"Renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg demonstrated that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one's colleagues or different points of view. Her opinions, including well-known decisions regarding the legal equality of women and the disabled, have inspired all Americans, and generations of great legal minds.

"A fighter to the end, Justice Ginsburg battled cancer, and other very long odds, throughout her remarkable life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ginsburg family and their loved ones during this difficult time. May her memory be a great and magnificent blessing to the world."

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Former President Barack Obama

Obama offered a long post on Medium remembering the legacy Ginsburg left behind for generations to follow:

"Sixty years ago, Ruth Bader Ginsburg applied to be a Supreme Court clerk. She'd studied at two of our finest law schools and had ringing recommendations. But because she was a woman, she was rejected. Ten years later, she sent her first brief to the Supreme Court -- which led it to strike down a state law based on gender discrimination for the first time. And then, for nearly three decades, as the second woman ever to sit on the highest court in the land, she was a warrior for gender equality -- someone who believed that equal justice under law only had meaning if it applied to every single American.

"Over a long career on both sides of the bench -- as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist -- Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn't about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn't only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It's about who we are -- and who we can be.

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"Justice Ginsburg inspired the generations who followed her, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land. Michelle and I admired her greatly, we're profoundly thankful for the legacy she left this country, and we offer our gratitude and our condolences to her children and grandchildren tonight.

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought to the end, through her cancer, with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals. That's how we remember her. But she also left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored.

"Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn't fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in.

"A basic principle of the law -- and of everyday fairness -- is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what's convenient or advantageous in the moment. The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle. As votes are already being cast in this election, Republican Senators are now called to apply that standard. The questions before the Court now and in the coming years -- with decisions that will determine whether or not our economy is fair, our society is just, women are treated equally, our planet survives, and our democracy endures -- are too consequential to future generations for courts to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process."

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Former President George W. Bush

Bush offered condolences on behalf of himself and former first lady Laura Bush:

"Laura and I join our fellow Americans in mourning the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She dedicated many of her 87 remarkable years to the pursuit of justice and equality, and she inspired more than one generation of women and girls. Justice Ginsburg loved our country and the law. Laura and I are fortunate to have known this smart and humorous trailblazer, and we send our condolences to the Ginsburg family."

Former President Jimmy Carter

Carter also issued a statement on behalf of himself and former first lady Rosalynn Carter:

"Rosalynn and I are saddened by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. A powerful legal mind and a staunch advocate for gender equality, the has been a beacon of justice during her long and remarkable career. I was proud to have appointed her to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1980. We join countless Americans in mourning the loss of a truly great woman. We will keep her family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

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Notable deaths of 2020

Richard Thornburgh
Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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