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Local officials react to death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

REGION — San Diego-area elected officials were mourning the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this weekend and dividing along partisan lines ahead of the mounting battle over confirmation of her replacement.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a trailblazing American hero, and her passing is an extraordinary loss for our nation. She dedicated her life to public service and protecting our values. Thanks to her perseverance and powerful opinions, the United States is a fairer, more just nation for all. Like millions of people across the country and around the world, I have always looked up to her, and her life’s work will continue to inspire me moving forward,” said Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, who represents a district that includes northern San Diego County.

“Nobody can truly fill her shoes, but the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court must honor her legacy and share her commitment to equality and justice,” Levin said.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher called her death, “a heartbreaking loss for our country.”

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg had a brilliant mind, compassionate heart and deep appreciation for our constitution and what American values should represent,” Fletcher said Friday. “I had the great honor to have lunch with her a few years back and was blown away by her intellect and playful spirit. As a professor at UCSD, her dissent in Shelby v. Holder is a masterpiece in constitutional law. There will never be another RBG.”

The court ruled in the case that the provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 containing the coverage formula determining which jurisdictions are subject to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting was unconstitutional.

In her dissent, Ginsburg wrote, “throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

Fletcher’s wife, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, tweeted, “My heart aches. We will truly miss the clear vision and leadership of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Rest in Power!”

Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, D-San Diego, said “We have lost a major force of our time. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a tireless advocate for justice, a brilliant legal mind, and an outstanding role model for generations of people.

“Like millions of Americans, I join Justice Ginsburg’s family in mourning her devastating loss, and honoring her legacy of feminism, equality, and progress.”

Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, wrote, “Our nation is better, fairer, and more just because of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Today, we pause to reflect on her extraordinary life. Tomorrow, we must do the work to ensure her legacy is not undone. Godspeed Notorious RBG.”

San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez called Ginsburg “a trailblazing advocate for women and a voice of integrity, justice, and equality on the Supreme Court.”

“Her life has inspired generations to always pursue justice for all,” Gomez said. “In her memory, we must keep fighting to make equality a reality in America.”

Ginsburg was the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court, nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993.

The Columbia Law School graduate taught at Rutgers and Columbia and was a fierce courtroom advocate of women’s rights, making her an iconic figure to feminists and earned her the nickname “Notorious RBG.”

While heading the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s, she brought a series of cases before the court that helped establish constitutional protections against sex discrimination.

Ginsburg died at her home in Washington of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court announced. She was 87.

The leader of the court’s four-member liberal wing had repeatedly vowed to stay on the bench as long as her health permitted. In a statement she dictated to her granddaughter within days of her death, Ginsburg said her “fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

But President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, signaled they would try to seize the opportunity to name and confirm her successor in the final days of Trump’s first term.

Their intentions appear to contradict a precedent set by McConnell in 2016, when the Kentucky Republican refused to allow the Senate to vote on Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the open seat left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland was nominated by Obama in March 2016, but McConnell insisted it wasn’t appropriate for the Senate to vote on a nominee in an election year and the seat remained vacant until it was filled by Trump’s nominee Neil Gorsuch in 2017.

McConnell is taking a different position in 2020.

“President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” McConnell said in a statement late Friday.

Levin said Republicans should abide by the precedent they set when they declined to allow consideration of Garland’s appointment.

“Just over four years ago, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans fabricated a new rule that a Supreme Court seat should not be filled during a presidential election year,” Levin continued. “If they have any respect for the Senate, the Supreme Court, and themselves, they will follow that rule again, especially with Americans already casting their votes just weeks ahead of the election. We must honor Justice Ginsburg’s final wish and allow the American people to decide who should nominate her successor,” Levin said.

San Diego Republican Party chair Tony Krvaric said Ginsburg set an example of civility toward people with whom she disagreed, but said the process to select her replacement should not wait until after the Nov. 3 general election.

“We extend tremendous respect to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and condolences to her family. While we disagreed with her much, no doubt she was an incredibly accomplished woman and a trailblazer. Her deep friendship with the late Justice Antonin Scalia showed that people who disagree vehemently can still not only be civil but also good friends,” Krvaric said. “President Trump should nominate a strict constitutionalist replacement as soon as possible and the United States Senate needs to exercise their advice and consent duty in an expeditious manner.”

Updated

8:15 a.m. September 21: