Stars pay tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, second woman to serve on U.S. Supreme Court, as she dies at 87

By Zach Harper

Stars are mourning and paying tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court, who has died from complications of pancreatic cancer at age 87.

It's hard to find a person who hasn't been influenced by the contributions, work and achievements of the woman whom younger generations dubbed "The Notorious RBG." Social media was full of tributes after news of her passing broke, with people from all walks of life praising her.

It was difficult to scroll without noticing the gratitude being expressed from people from every generation, from Baby Boomers to teenagers. Everyone from Hollywood stars to politicians joined in when it came to memorializing her, thanking her for her incredible life's work.

Duchess Meghan shared how the trailblazing woman had affected her own life.

"With an incomparable and indelible legacy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will forever be known as a woman of brilliance, a Justice of courage and a human being of deep conviction," the Duchess of Sussex said in a statement. "She has been a true inspiration to me since I was a girl. Honour her, remember her, act for her."

"Justice Ginsburg paved the way for so many women, including me," Hillary Clinton tweeted. "There will never be another like her. Thank you, RBG."

Mindy Kaling was thinking about her daughter when she posted her tribute.

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the kind of scholar and patriot you get excited about explaining to your kids," she tweeted. "The kind of person who you say 'who knows, one day you could be HER.' I hope you rest well, RBG, you must have been tired from changing the world."

"Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg," Brie Larson tweeted. "We'll keep pushing our way into all the places we've yet to be invited."

Seventeen-year-old star Storm Reid, known for her roles on Euphoria and When They See Us, called RBG "a warrior."

"RBG took up space undeniably," she continued on Instagram. "She reiterated that women aren't and shouldn't be the exception. We belong in all places. She led an extraordinary life and operated from a space of selflessness. Her life, mission and career were bigger than herself. She did everything she did for US. All I can say is thank you."

Many men also joined in, posting their own tributes.

"A profound and fearless advocate for women, equality and justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg's impact will undoubtedly be felt for generations," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted. "My thoughts are with her family, colleagues and all who were inspired by her lifetime of service."

"Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who devoted her entire career to fighting for equal justice for women, because she knew it would improve life for everyone," Bill Gates tweeted. "America is a better place because of her service. I am inspired by her life and legacy."

Born in Brooklyn, Ruth had a father who was a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine and a mother whose parents were Austrian Jewish immigrants. Her mother, Celia, had not been able to attend school past the age of 15. Celia's goal was to ensure Ruth – whose first name was Joan, but began going by her middle name to avoid confusion over there being too many Joans at school – was able to get the education she could not have.

Ruth attended Cornell University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Government in 1954. While there, she met Martin Ginsburg, who she married shortly after graduating. She was demoted at her first job at the Social Security Administration in Oklahoma when she became pregnant.

Two years later, she enrolled at Harvard Law School, where she was one of just nine women out of 500 students in her class. Famously, she attended a dinner at the Dean's home, where the dean asked all the female students why they were in the school, since he argued they were taking up a man's place. She later transferred to Columbia Law School, where she graduated first in her class in 1959.

Ruth faced employment discrimination early in her legal career, being rejected from clerk positions repeatedly because she was a woman. She was spurred into action on women's rights when she became a research associate at the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure, where she researched a book on Sweden. She learned the Swedish language and spent time in the country, and also learned Swedish law schools were comprised of 20 to 25 per cent of female students and that female judges worked while pregnant.

From there, Ruth moved on to becoming a professor at Rutgers Law School, where she worked until 1972. That year, she co-founded the Women's Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union and became its general counsel. Between 1973 and 1976, she argued six gender discrimination cases at the U.S. Supreme Court and won five of them.

Ruth speaks after being named to the U.S. Supreme Court by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1993. Photo: © Ron Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

In 1980, she received a nomination from then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter to sit on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She served on that court until she became a U.S. Supreme Court justice in 1993. That fateful year, she became the second woman to sit on the highest court in the country when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton named her.

Ruth's life and her early U.S. Supreme Court cases were also the subject of 2018's On the Basis of Sex, in which Felicity Jones played the young lawyer. Ruth served as a consultant on the film.

"She has this almost movie-star like quality," Felicity told the Los Angeles Times around the time of the film's release.

A woman sits outside the U.S. Supreme Court after the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18, 2020. She holds a sign referencing one of Ruth's most iconic quotes: "When I'm sometimes asked 'When will there be enough [women on the U.S. Supreme Court]?' And I say, 'When there are nine,' people are shocked. But there'd been nine men, and nobody's ever raised a question about that." Photo: © ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images

Ruth's latest illness wasn't her first battle with cancer. In 1999, she beat colon cancer and 10 years later she was diagnosed with early-stage pancreatic cancer. Just two years ago, two tumours were found on her lungs. Yet through it all, she maintained her space on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Thank you for everything, Ruth. Rest in power.

Don't miss a beat with HELLO! Canada's Daily Hits newsletter, your daily dose of royal and celebrity news, fashion, weddings and more. CLICK HERE to sign up for free!