Caribbean American pols honor life of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Caribbean American Democratic legislators have honored the life of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died at her home in Washington on Friday. She was 87.

The US Supreme Court announced that Justice Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the highest court in America and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, died from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. 

“Today, the world mourns the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told Caribbean Life on Saturday. 

“Since 1980, Ginsburg has been a champion of equality for all and justice for every American, regardless of their race, gender or background,” added Clarke, representative for the largely Caribbean 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn. “She embodied all the values of the American justice system that we will strive to uphold for future generations.

“Although this news is devastating for all those who have admired the incredible work of Justice Ginsburg, we must remember the magnitude of the impact she left on our laws and values, and strive to uphold her legacy however possible,” continued Clarke, vice chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, member of the Homeland Security Committee and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Immigration Task Force in the US House of Representatives. 

“As a fierce advocate for feminism and equality, we must remember the work of the incredible Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and continue the mission she left for us to complete,” she said. 

Other Caribbean American legislators in Brooklyn have joined Clarke in expressing sadness over the passing of Brooklyn-born Ginsburg. 

“The country has lost a brilliant mind, a fearless fighter, a diligent public servant who spent her life dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of the vulnerable,” New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, told Caribbean Life. “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy as a jurist was incredible – inspiring, progressive and just. 

“Her impact on the court was tremendous in scope and in value as we strive for an America that lives up to its promise,” he added. “Her resilience seemed unmatchable as she worked to fulfill that promise.  

“Her passing in this time, in this moment of history, is an unfathomable loss, which will reverberate with the volume of her legacy, her volumes of work, for many years to come,” Williams continued. “No matter who the next president nominates to the court, Justice Ginsburg is, and always will be, irreplaceable.” 

New York State Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, said the nation lost “a preeminent judicial scholar and champion for gender equality.”

Bichotte, the chair of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, noted that Ginsburg passed away on the evening of Rosh Hashanah, a Jewish holiday.

She said Ginsburg started her legal career as an advocate for gender equality and that Ginsburg’s “legal opinions and powerful voice on the country’s highest court made her a role model to women across the nation and globe.”

Bichotte, who represents the predominantly Caribbean 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, said Justice Ginsburg’s example “compelled” her to pursue her Juris Doctorate, a law degree, at Brooklyn Law School.

“Justice Ginsburg’s contributions to the court will be sorely missed,” she said. “Her leadership, her wisdom and her brave fight against the illness that eventually took her life should inspire not only the country in the days and years ahead but the nation, as it confronts extraordinary challenges. 

“Justice Ginsburg’s legacy must be carried on by the next justice to serve on the court,” Bichotte urged.

New York City Councilman Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to New York City Council, said: “It is with great sadness that our country mourns the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

“Justice Ginsburg was a monumental figure in the fight for the women’s rights, and was a role model for the current and future generation of leaders,” said Dr. Eugene, who represents the 40th Council District in Brooklyn. 

“She was a dedicated public servant who spent her life committed to upholding the rule of law and justice for all Americans,” he added. “My deepest sympathies and prayers are with her family during this very difficult time.” 

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, who represents the Caribbean community in parts of Brooklyn and Queens, said “our nation mourns the loss of a brilliant jurist, trailblazer for equality and fearless advocate for gender, racial and social justice.

“Justice Ginsburg’s native Brooklyn mourns the loss of its favorite daughter, whose grit and courage have forever left their mark on America,” said Jeffries, chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Democratic Caucus. “Justice Ginsburg occupies a singular place in history for her life’s work defending our Constitution and ensuring our laws meet the promise and values of our great nation. 

“She used her voice time and again to defend the Constitution and uphold our democracy for all Americans, especially the least, the lost and the left behind among us,” added Jeffries, representative for the 8th Congressional District, which includes parts of Brooklyn and Queens. 

He urged the US Senate to uphold that Ginsberg’s legacy by “allowing the American people their say in who will appoint her successor on the Supreme Court. 

“This was Justice Ginsburg’s most fervent wish, because nothing less than the integrity of our democracy is at stake,” Jeffries said. “Debt of gratitude does not even begin to describe what the American people owe Justice Ginsburg for her lifetime of service and fierce advocacy. “May her transition be guided by the prayers of a thankful nation and may her memory continue to be a blessing.”

New York Attorney Letitia James, a strong advocate for the Caribbean community, said “our hearts are heavy tonight with the passing of one of the most impactful justices to ever serve on the Supreme Court. 

“From her time at the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) founding its Women’s Right Project, to her 27 years serving the highest court in the land, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a lifelong warrior in the fight to ensure justice and equality for all Americans,” James told Caribbean Life Friday night.

“Justice Ginsburg’s remarkable legacy, her resolute dignity, her profound sense of justice, and her unwavering desire to do what is right will forever serve as inspiration for the very girls and women she spent her life fighting for,” James added. “We must honor her legacy by standing firm in the beliefs she held on to until the very end. Rest in peace, Justice Ginsburg, and thank you for balancing the scales of justice day by day, and case by case.”

Former US President Bill Clinton had nominated the pioneering advocate of women’s right to the US Supreme Court in June 1993. 

Within hours of Justice Ginsberg’s death, US Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to put Trump’s nominee to replace  Ginsburg on the US Supreme Court.

“Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary,” he said in a statement. 

“Once again, we will keep our promise,” he added. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

McConnell’s pledge is in stark contrast to 2016, on the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, when he declared that a Supreme Court Justice’s successor should await the results of the presidential election.

He then went ahead in blocking President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland.

But US Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader and Democrat of New York, reminded McConnell of his stance four years ago.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” he tweeted. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” 

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was expected on Sunday to hold a public remembrance to honor the life and legacy of Justice Ginsburg.

Adams said on Saturday that he was hoping to be joined by a wide array of civic leaders, advocacy organizations and everyday New Yorkers – “all of whom owe a profound debt to the late legal giant and her pioneering example.”

The borough president and other participants were expected to speak about Justice Ginsburg’s “enduring contributions and how we can all work together to carry on her legacy of advocating for the vulnerable and marginalized in our society,” Adams said.

“They will also renew calls to rename the Brooklyn Municipal Building in her honor,” Adams said. “Our country has lost a legal giant and a trailblazer in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

“A daughter of Brooklyn, Justice Ginsburg spent her life tirelessly advocating for the rights of the vulnerable and marginalized in our society, from women to the LGBTQ+ community,” he added. “Justice Ginsburg rightly gained an international profile and the playful moniker of the ‘Notorious RBG’ because of the moral force of her words and her vision for a fairer, more just society. 

“We owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude, and send our love and prayers to her family and all those devastated by this loss,” the Brooklyn Borough President continued.

More from Around NYC

>