FRIDAY, Sept. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on Friday, the court announced. The cause was complications from pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg was 87.
First appointed to the court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton, Ginsburg was the longest serving member of the liberal justices on the bench. Her many votes in support of abortion rights, access to health care, same-sex marriage and other lightning rod issues have garnered her almost star-like status on the left.
The diminutive Ginsburg was even given a feisty nickname, "Notorious R.B.G.," in documentaries that celebrated her life and achievements.
"Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature," Chief Justice John Roberts said in the court 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."
Her death Friday marks the end of a long struggle against a series of health problems. In mid-July the court announced that Ginsburg was undergoing chemotherapy to help fight a recurrence of pancreatic cancer.
The cancer had arisen once more, this time in her liver, according to a report from the court. Cutting-edge immunotherapy had been tried to shrink the tumor, but it wasn't effective. At the time, Ginsburg said in a court statement that standard chemotherapy had seemed to be working, however.
Immunotherapy "proved unsuccessful," Ginsburg said in the July 17 court statement. "The chemotherapy course, however, is yielding positive results. Satisfied that my treatment course is now clear, I am providing this information."
Typical of her tenacity and work ethic, Ginsburg also said at the time that she felt "fully able" to continue in her post on the court.
"I have often said I would remain a member of the court as long as I can do the job full steam. I remain fully able to do that," she said.
Ginsburg had two cancerous nodules removed from her left lung in late 2018, and was first treated for pancreatic cancer in August 2019. She had also fought colon cancer in 1999.
Ginsburg underwent a separate treatment earlier in July at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore after a bout of fever with chills and having an "endoscopic procedure to clean out a bile duct stent that was placed last August," according to the court.
And on May 6, she returned after nonsurgical treatment in the hospital for an infection caused by a gallstone. Tests at a hospital in Washington, D.C., had "confirmed that she was suffering from a gallstone that had migrated to her cystic duct, blocking it and causing an infection," according to the court.
According to CNN, at the time, Ginsburg participated in oral arguments from her hospital bed on a case concerning Obamacare that had been brought before the court.
The Supreme Court ended its term in July following a number of major decisions.
Long before her appointment to the Supreme Court, Ginsburg was a trailblazing lawyer and then judge in the fight for women's rights, most notably helping to decide on key issues such as gender pay equity.
"It makes absolute sense that Justice Ginsburg has become an idol for younger generations," Justice Elena Kagan said at an event at the New York Bar Association in 2014, CNN reported. "Her impact on America and American law has been extraordinary."