Top elected and legal officials in Hawaii paid their condolences to Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday, calling her “irreplaceable” and “a giant.”

And there is already tremendous concern as to who might replace her.

The legendary U.S. Supreme Court associate justice, who died Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer, was 87.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a giant,” U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono said on Twitter. “There are literally not enough words to describe the transformational impact she had on the lives of millions of Americans as an advocate and a jurist.”

Her Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, said on Twitter, “May she Rest In Peace and power and may her memory be a blessing.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg visited with high school students at Mililani high School, in February 2017. Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

“Vaya con Dios, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said on Twitter, adding an emoji of hands in prayer.

Her Democratic colleague, U.S. Rep. Ed Case, said in a statement, “We have lost a giant. A good and decent citizen who believed passionately in her country and Constitution and, when called to great responsibility, discharged it honorably and fully.”

“Rest in peace, RBG,” said Case.

Flags Lowered

As a mark of respect for Ginsburg, Gov. David Ige ordered that the flags of the United States and state of Hawaii be flown at half-staff at all state offices and agencies and the Hawaii National Guard, “immediately until the date of Ginsburg’s interment (date to be determined).”

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a giant in advocating for justice and equity. Justice Ginsburg visited Hawaiʻi several times, and it was clear that her values were closely aligned with those of our community. Dawn and I celebrate her work and life and mourn her loss,” said Ige.

House of Representatives Speaker Scott Saiki called her “irreplaceable,” in a statement.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said on Twitter, “America lost a giant in jurisprudence today. She fought for justice and equality for all Americans, particularly women and those who are discriminated against based on gender.”

He added, “From her days as a law student to her last days on the Supreme Court, she never stopped fighting for a better America. She is irreplaceable.”

Honolulu City Councilwoman Kym Pine released a statement that said in part: “Her death, while obviously a loss for her family, is also a loss for women everywhere. Justice Ginsburg was a powerful, trailblazing influence for women of all ages. Her achievements, strength and grace while enduring several bouts with cancer, should be an inspiration to us all to forge ahead through all of life’s challenges in order to serve others.”

Trump To Appoint Replacement

Ginsburg’s death, though not unexpected, comes with less than 50 days until Election Day. There is already plenty of speculation over how President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will handle a possible appointment to replace her.

Would the appointment wait until after the election? And if Trump loses to Democrat Joe Biden, will the lame duck president still try to push through a judicial nomination?

Ginsburg was one of four justices who tend to vote more liberally. Trump has already appointed two conservatives to the bench, giving them a 5 to 4 majority — now 5 to 3, with Ginsburg’s death.

Hirono, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had this thought: “I have a very simple message for Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell tonight. The best and only way to honor the life’s work of Justice Ginsburg, a giant of a jurist, is to honor her fervent final wish that she not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

For his part, Schatz quoted the Notorious RBG, as she was fondly called, herself: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new President is installed.”

Schatz also quoted McConnell from March 2016: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

McConnell said Friday, however, that Trump’s nominee will receive a full Senate vote. That’s according to The Washington Post. And ABC News reported that the president is expected to put forth a nominee in the coming days.

A Visitor To The Islands

Ginsburg visited Hawaii several times, including as a sitting justice, and she was widely admired. During a 2017 visit, a student asked Ginsburg about whether she thinks immigrants benefit the country.

The justice, as Civil Beat reported, said the inscription at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty welcoming immigrants “inspires me to this day.”

“I think of the U.S. as a place that welcomes people from abroad who want to work and who are yearning to be free,” she said. “It’s disheartening to see that there are some people who don’t agree with that view who think our borders should be closed. But it’s not the first time in U.S. history that has happened.”

Ginsburg took part in the U.S. Supreme Court Jurists-in-Residence program run by the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaii — her third time to participate in the program, which she also joined in 2004 and 1998.

Hawaii Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark E. Recktenwald released this statement Friday:

It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today. Justice Ginsburg was a legal giant: a brilliant jurist who tirelessly worked to ensure that our nation’s promise of justice for all was kept.

She was also a courageous and inspirational role model, both professionally and personally. We were honored to have her visit the Hawaii Supreme Court on several occasions. Most recently, she visited our court in 2017, when she met with the justices and members of the bar, and then graciously spoke about her experiences and her love of Hawaii with law clerks and staff attorneys.

On behalf of the Hawaii Judiciary, we send our deepest sympathy and fond aloha to her family.

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