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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Died At 87; President Trump: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was "An Amazing Woman"; Joe Biden: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was "A Beloved Figure". Aired 9-10p ET
Aired September 18, 2020 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, after November, it's possible.
But that calculus all gets really complicated if the Republicans lose the majority, if the President loses re-election to Joe Biden and, at that point, will other Republicans say, "Look, the voters spoke. The new majority needs to come in and confirm a nominee."
That is clearly not the view of Mitch McConnell, who says that he will move forward to confirm someone, he says, this is different than 2016 when he sat on President Obama's nominee. In that election year, at the time, he said let the voters decide.
He's saying that's different because there was a Democrat in the White House, a Republican Senate. Now, it's a Republican Senate, a Republican in the White House, and he's making very clear, Anderson that he's going to put forward President Trump's nominee before the end of the year.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Let's get some analysis on this. Manu, thank you.
Gloria, and you hear Mitch McConnell's statement? It sounds like I mean he says point-blank it's going to go up for a vote.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Look, I think Donald Trump, if wants to get his name out there as quickly as possible, wouldn't surprise me if he nominated a woman to replace her.
I think he wants to use this to get the base motivated. Don't forget, he'd been losing a little bit of support from evangelical voters. He can say, "Look, I'm going to - I'm going to nominate someone who is pro-life, and this is important to me."
And, of course, it's important to Mitch McConnell, because he's - judges have been his raison d'etre this past year. So, I think they're going to move, move, move, and I think the Democrats are going to say, "Wait a minute."
And then I think you have Republicans who are in tight races, or what if the Senate changes hands, what if - I mean, we just don't know how this will play out. But I can guarantee you, on both sides, this is going to motivate the base of both parties.
Now, remember, Joe Biden has not yet given the list of potential nominees. The President has said "Why doesn't Biden give his list?" And Biden didn't feel the need to.
I'm wondering now whether this changes the calculation on that, and whether Joe Biden would feel, for example, the need to say this is the person I want on the court or whether he would hang back on that.
I've texted a couple of people. I don't have an answer on that yet.
COOPER: Yes. Jeff Toobin, there's a special election, I think, in Arizona.
If Mark Kelly, the Democrat who's running against the incumbent Republican was to win that or to - it was to win that or to - against the Republican, if they were to win that then that would be one less Republican anomaly in the Senate, because I think Mark Kelly would actually get sworn in right away.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: That's - you know what, Anderson, that's news to me. I just don't know the law in Arizona.
It's important to recognize that all the new senators come in on January 3rd. The President comes in on January 20th. So the window of the lame duck period is not until January 20th. It's only until January 3rd. It's a tight time frame.
And if there's one thing I've learned, in covering the United States Senate, is you don't bet against Mitch McConnell and win very often. I mean he is a master of procedure and of substance. But he doesn't always win. And there are a lot of variables here, and he's not in control of all of them. He does not have a lot of votes to play with.
And look, let's be honest, his position is the height of hypocrisy. He can invent some reason that well it was different when Obama was President because there was a Republican Senate at the time. He didn't say that at the time. That never came up at that point. It's irrelevant anyway.
There were 11 months left in Barack Obama's term, and Mitch McConnell and every single Republican said "Too late." Here we are with two months left in Donald Trump's term, and they're saying "That's fine."
That is hypocrisy. It's not complicated to understand, and good luck to the Republican senators who are trying to explain to their swing voters about how those positions are consistent.
COOPER: But Jeff, if you are decrying hypocrisy, I understand. But there's plenty of things that are hypocritical that get done, especially these days all the time.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. That's why it's unwise to bet against Mitch McConnell.
COOPER: Yes. TOOBIN: But you know politicians respond to incentives, and the incentives come from their voters.
There is nothing Mitch McConnell cares more about than the courts, and nothing more within the courts than he cares about - more cares about more than the Supreme Court.
So, he is going to be on a mission to get this nominee who will certainly be coming probably in the next week or so, and almost certainly Amy Coney Barrett. He is going to be on a mission, but he is not in entire control of this process.
And the public, and how interested the public is, and how much swing voters care, it's one thing to say, Donald Trump, to his base, "I am going to appoint someone who will appoint Roe v. Wade," as he has said many times.
Is that going to get him a lot of votes in the suburbs? Doesn't seem that way to me. That's not what the polling shows. So yes, his base wants a very Right-wing nominee, but he's not just running for the President of his base.
He's running for President of the United States, and those positions on social issues, on gay rights, on civil rights, on abortion rights, they're not popular with most of the country. So, we'll see, as I said earlier, it is not a done deal one way or the other.
COOPER: Yes. Getting some new information, this comes from NPR, it's from I think it's - it's from her granddaughter, the granddaughter of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This is what her granddaughter said.
Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter, saying my most - "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
Jeff, that certainly a new president, meaning a president not Donald Trump?
TOOBIN: Let's not kid here - let's not kid around here.
I mean Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a liberal Democrat. She was indiscrete before the election, in 2016, displaying her contempt for Donald Trump. And so - I mean, she wants to be replaced by a Democrat. Period!
And I don't think that's a surprise. I don't know how many votes that will shift, either among the citizens or among senators, but that is an unusually blunt statement from an unusually blunt Justice.
COOPER: David Gergen is just joining us now. David, how do you see the political battle that is about to be waged?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER TO NIXON, FORD, REAGAN & CLINTON: Mitch McConnell has just thrown down the gauntlet, Anderson. I think we're going to have a titanic fight over this.
Yes, as Jeffrey has said, it will mobilize a lot of people on the Right, a whole - a hunger still to overturn Roe v. Wade, get it the other social issues with a 6-3 court. That's where I've seen (ph) a lot of people think Donald Trump has delivered on his promises and they will vote in heavier numbers.
But this is going - this will unleash a fury among Democrats. For all the obvious reasons, it's so brazenly contemptuous of fair play. It is so hypocritical that I think you're going to see that the Democrat - that the Republicans will pay a price at the polls this November over this issue.
It is I think, among other things, I think it makes it more likely that Donald - that I think it makes more likely that Joe Biden will win the election. It makes it more likely that the Democrats will take over the Senate. And if Biden is the President, and the next year, when he tries to heal things, I think it's going to make polarization even more poisonous, almost irreversible.
There's going to be a filibuster, for example, I think, could easily go, where out of the anger that's caused over something that is this unfair. So, I think this is a big, big deal. It could change the elections. And I think my bet is it will change the elections in Donald Trump's favor, not the other way around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean in--
COOPER: You mean in--
GERGEN: I'm sorry. It will - it will change the equation in Joe Biden's favor, not the other way around. I think this plays into Biden's hands, simply because the unfairness, it's just so - it reeks of hypocrisy.
GERGEN: And I think people are going to want to take a price for - pay a price for it.
COOPER: David, do you think it's possible, and again, this is hypothetical, depending on a lot of what happens.
COOPER: But if Joe Biden gets elected, and in a lame duck session, they do confirm a nominee of President Trump's choosing, do you think that the Democrats once in power would try to then expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court?
GERGEN: That's a darn good question, Anderson. I've been wondering about that myself. I don't - that's one I think we don't know. It's really, really hard to do.
But there are going to be a lot of people on the Left who will feel they're entirely justified. After all, this will wind up being two seats that the Democrats will feel, have been stolen from them.
We hear all the time the President talking about "We're going to have - the election is stolen." Well here it's the Court that's being stolen in the minds of most Democrats.
COOPER: David Gergen, thank you. Ariane de Vogue--
GERGEN: Thank you.
COOPER: --is joining us by phone.
I'm wondering what you make of Mitch McConnell's statement.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER (voice-over): Well it's the next big fight, and that's what's interesting about it. We sure saw what the last fight was, over Brett Kavanaugh, and that was even after the Gorsuch, the whole Gorsuch nomination hearing.
But Anderson, it's interesting, the one thing I wanted to talk about is the fact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg began this last Supreme Court term, right, with her fourth bout of cancer. She was recovering from that. She was heading into this unbelievable term with those big issues.
In January, she thought that she was cancer-free and she told CNN. But then, in February, she got these new tests. And what's remarkable about it, is that she didn't talk to the public about it, like she had in the past.
She just dug in, and she attacked, for instance, over the huge abortion case. She dominated oral arguments on that. And then COVID came, and the court was closed down. And we had, for the first time, telephonic arguments.
She had a health mishap during those telephonic arguments. She called in, from the hospital, and continued to pepper (ph) the government on women's healthcare issue. That kind of shows the woman that she was.
And at the end of the term, after the term had finished, she was also working on a book that was going to be released.
One of her former law clerks, Amanda Tyler, was working on a book, talking about her history, in the area of gender rights. And Amanda told me tonight that up until about three weeks ago, they were trading information on the book.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was marking it up. She often said that she was going to do the job until she could no longer do the job. And that's what's really extraordinary about it, that she was working right up to the end--
DE VOGUE: --on her legacy and on the issues that defined her legacy. COOPER: Yes. Ariane, actually we have Amanda Tyler, joining us right now who--
DE VOGUE: Oh good.
COOPER: --clerked for Mrs. Ginsburg and, as you said, was working on a book with her.
Amanda, thank you so much for being with us. I'm so sorry for the loss for you. Can you just talk about your thoughts tonight, and also, the woman that you came to know?
AMANDA TYLER, FORMER LAW CLERK FOR JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG, WAS HELPING JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG WRITE A BOOK: Devastated! There's no other word.
I think all of us who had the privilege and true honor of serving as a law clerk to the Justice are - we're just reeling tonight. It was one of the greatest honors of my life to be her law clerk. It was so extraordinary of an - it was such an extraordinary experience.
She was my idol, you know, and how many people get to say that they worked for their idol? That's a really special thing.
COOPER: Did you - did you interview with her for the job?
TYLER: I did, when I was in my final year of law school.
COOPER: That's got to be pretty intimidating.
TYLER: Yes, it was. But she put me at ease right away. I was pretty nervous, though.
COOPER: What was she like to work with?
TYLER: She was meticulous. She had the highest standards.
I like to analogize working for her with being on a sports team with someone like Michael Jordan. She was so great that she made everybody around her do their best work and be at their best. And it was just awesome to be able to be a part of that.
COOPER: I mean I'm not a lawyer. I've never worked for a judge or in a law firm. Can you sort of give me an example? I mean, how does that - how does that actually play out in an office setting? Is it - you are discussing something and she - the way she makes you think about it is different?
TYLER: Well, she would involve her law clerks. I mean obviously she's the Justice and she made the decisions.
But she would work with her law clerks extensively on drafting the opinions, and that was an extensive and drawn-out process, because every single word had to be doing something in the opinion.
The opinion had to be written in an accessible way. It was very important to her that anyone could pick up one of her opinions and understand it, whether they were a trained lawyer or not. And so, there was a lot of back and forth.
And her editing remained - I had been working with her in the last few months. Her editing was as extensive as ever. She was still teaching me to be a better writer even as recently as this summer.
COOPER: And what was your focus on - what's your focus on the book that you were writing with her?
TYLER: So, she and I had compiled a book that includes a discussion that we had last year about her life. It includes some of her most recent speeches.
It includes documents and things that she wanted to put together to tell about her life's work, fighting for gender equality, and more generally, to make, as our Constitution's preamble says, ours "A more perfect union."
So, it's a collection of materials, including also materials that we wrote together about her whole career.
COOPER: What was it that drove her?
I mean, you look at all the sort of - the signposts along the way on her career, I mean the loss of her mom, a sister who died when she was very, very young, her having a child out of - right out of college, marrying out of college, having a child, going to Harvard Law School, facing discrimination from the Dean of Harvard Law School, saying to the women - to the nine women at Harvard Law School, "Please each of you stand up and justify why you're taking the place of a man at Harvard Law School."
I mean it's - couldn't get a job even after graduating first in her class at Columbia Law School or tied for first in her class.
TYLER: She was tenacious.
COOPER: What do you think motived it?
TYLER: She was tenacious. I'm sorry, Anderson. She was resilient, she was tenacious, and she was a fighter.
My favorite image of her is of her holding up her fists in mock - in a mock fighting mode during her confirmation proceedings. I think that is Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a nutshell. She was determined. She was not going to let anything stop her from achieving her full human potential.
And she's made it her life - or she made it her - I'm sorry, I hesitate when it becomes past tense.
COOPER: Yes. TYLER: She made it her life's work to make sure that everyone could have the opportunity to live up to their full human potential. That's what she was about, and that's pretty special.
She left an enormous legacy. She made our country better. And she did it first as an advocate and then as a judge. And I think it was the drive to contribute, to leave the world a better place than she found it that kept her going right up until the end.
COOPER: I think the successes she had in her career, prior to being on the Supreme Court, it's a testimony to the successes she had that, I think, for many people today, thinking about the obstacles that she faced, after graduating first in her class at Columbia, and having been in the Columbia Law Review, and the Harvard Law Review, not being able to find a job is extraordinary, and the unequal treatment, and that's really what - I mean she focused like that - that's what she changed. I mean she focused on gender equality, and made amazing strides.
TYLER: Yes, she completely changed the legal landscape in this country. And she made it so, I mean this is not about me, but I want to use myself as an example. It was not a big deal (OFF-MIKE)--
COOPER: I think we're so--
TYLER: --myself and--
COOPER: Hey, you know?
COOPER: Amanda, sorry, you froze, your computer froze for a second. You were saying it was not a big deal?
TYLER: It was not a big deal for me to go to Harvard Law School as a woman. It's not a big deal for me to be a Law Professor as a woman.
It's because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her generation of women that that is possible (OFF-MIKE) so lucky as I do all the women lawyers of my generation that she opened that up, but she opened up so much more.
She was determined to change the legal landscape in this country for not just women lawyers, but women and men so that gender discrimination would no longer enforce outdated gender stereotypes, and everyone could live their full human potential.
COOPER: Amanda Tyler, I know it's a difficult moment to talk about her, and I really appreciate you doing that because it helps to bring her back, and keep her in all our minds. Thank you very much.
TYLER: Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: I want to go to Jim Acosta now at the White House. Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Anderson, President Trump just finished up that rally in Minnesota, and he briefly spoke with reporters waiting outside of Air Force One. He said that he had just found out about the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
As he was leaving the stage in Minnesota, he said - and this is what he said just a few moments ago to reporters. "I didn't know that," and then about the late Justice, he said, "She led an amazing life. She was an amazing woman."
Interestingly, Anderson, he did not comment on the vacancy now on the Court. Obviously, talking to Manu Raju earlier, from what we're hearing from our sources, the President is expected to seek to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
I was just speaking with a source close to the President, a few moments ago, who said he desperately wants to put another Supreme Court Justice on the High Court. And so, we should definitely expect that to happen.
In terms of what the President is going to say on that subject, it is possible, Anderson, as he gets back on Air Force One, and heads back to Washington that he'll make some comments to reporters, on Air Force One. And so, we might see some - some bulletins from our friends at the wire services and that sort of thing over the next hour or so.
But I suspect, Anderson, knowing everything that we know, that the President, conservative base, Republicans up on Capitol Hill, who are aligned with Mitch McConnell, they very much want to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the High Court.
But, as of just a few moments ago, the President, he seemed genuinely surprised and stunned by the news when reporters mentioned it to him that she had passed away, Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Acosta, appreciate that update.
Congresswoman Donna Shalala was a long-time friend of Justice Ginsburg. She joins me now.
Congresswoman Shalala, I'm sorry we're talking under these circumstances. And I'm sorry for your loss. If you could, just talk about the person you knew.
REP. DONNA SHALALA (D-FL): Well, first of all, she had a wonderful sense of humor. But Ruth Ginsburg was just a giant. Every woman in America, doesn't make any difference what your politics is, ought to say thank you, tonight, to an extraordinary woman.
Amanda Tyler, who you just talked to, played Division I Soccer, if I remember correctly, at Stanford, and Title IX was something that Ruth protected as part of her role as a champion for women's rights.
I met Ruth Ginsburg when she was a professor at Rutgers. I was just starting my career, and then we taught, we both taught at Columbia, and I used to have lunch with her, on a regular basis. When she came to Miami, she would always call, and I'd try to get together with her.
Let me say this. Marty Ginsburg was also an important figure, not simply in her life. He ran the campaign to get Ruth on the court.
The President, if I remember correctly, President Clinton was considering both Ruth and Steve Breyer, and Steve, of course, got the second appointment from President Clinton.
But Marty called everyone. Ruth couldn't do it. She was a federal judge. Marty did a full-court press. I mean, he organized that campaign to make sure that we all called the President or, in my case, actually went and talked to him, to recommend Ruth.
And, of course, Hillary was already there. But we all got multiple calls from Marty, as he called everyone to make sure that we made the case. He gave us talking points. And I'd say, "Marty, I don't need talking points, I know Ruth." But it was - it was a very special time to see her come on the Court.
And, of course, we're all thankful for the years we had her. Our lives will never be the same, will always be better, every woman and every child in America, will have a better life because of Ruth Ginsburg.
COOPER: I don't want to - I don't know if you want to talk about what happens now. Mitch McConnell has put out a statement saying there will be a vote. I'm wondering what you make of that?
SHALALA: That it's in bad taste. That he should have at least waited 24 hours. At least the President didn't say that immediately, but probably because he was caught short about this.
I think that we should take a couple of days, and celebrate her life, before we get deeply into the politics.
COOPER: I want to play, if you can just stay for a second, just some sound from Justice Ginsburg talking about being an attorney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTICE RUTH BADER GINSBURG: I had the idea being a lawyer was a pretty good thing. You could get a job and work for pay, but you could also help keep the society in tune with our most basic values.
I wasn't fully appreciative of the hurdle that I would face because 1956, when I started law school, there was no anti-discrimination law, no Title VII, certainly no Title IX. And employers were totally upfront in saying, "We don't want any lady lawyers in this shop."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I think she personally - I think she - this is from memory, so I may have some of the details wrong.
But I remember reading that when she was married to her husband out of college, and she had had a child, they'd moved, I think, it was to Oklahoma, where he was in serving the military, and that she worked in the Social Security office, and was actually demoted after having a child, which is just, again, it's one of those things that, at the time, that was - that was something that was common.
SHALALA: Ruth used to - once joked with me that they had all these Social Security cases that came before the Supreme Court, and she had once worked at Social Security. I think I was sued (ph) about 11,000 times a year on those individual cases.
But she - this - her experience, being discriminated against, as a woman, as a mother, as a lawyer, she used that to make our lives better. She used that experience to chip away at the law, so that we all had extraordinary opportunities.
COOPER: What a - what a remarkable thing to have had her as a friend.
SHALALA: She was special.
COOPER: Yes. They don't - people like her do not come along every single day. Congresswoman?
SHALALA: Sui Generis, one of a kind.
SHALALA: Sui Generis, one of a kind.
COOPER: Congresswoman Shalala, I appreciate your time tonight, thank you very much. And again, I'm sorry for your loss.
SHALALA: You're welcome.
COOPER: Our coverage continues on the death of Justice Ginsburg. We'll return right after a short break.
COOPER: Just about half past the hour, we're looking back on the life and legacy of Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She died today from complications of cancer, in Washington.
In her years, on the court, and her years, on earth, she did more than most of us would ever dream of doing and she never stopped.
I want to take a look now back at the remarkable life from CNN's Jessica Schneider.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ruth Bader Ginsburg's rise from a humble Brooklyn neighborhood to the nation's highest court was a classic American story.
GINSBURG: What is the difference between a bookkeeper in New York's Garment District and a Supreme Court Justice? Just one generation. My mother's life and mine bear witness. Where else but in America would that happen? SCHNEIDER (voice-over): She was smart, tied for first in her class at Columbia Law School. But in the late 50s, and early 60s, the glass ceiling stood firm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were three strikes against her. First, she was a woman. Second, she was Jewish. Third, she had a young child.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): She turned to teaching law and fighting gender discrimination for the ACLU.
MARGO SCHLANGER, FORMER GINSBURG CLERK: Very much with the model of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund, led by Thurgood Marshall, she had this idea that you have to build precedence step by step.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In 1980, Ginsburg became a federal appellate court judge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.
GINSBURG: So help me God.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): 13 years later, she was named to the Supreme Court, by President Clinton, the second woman on the bench. The first, Sandra Day O'Connor, was glad to see her.
SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR, FORMER SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The minute Justice Ginsburg came to the court, we were nine justices. It wasn't seven and then "The women." And it was a great relief to me.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): As a Justice, Ginsburg consistently voted in favor of abortion access and civil rights, perhaps her best-known work on the court, writing the 1996 landmark decision to strike down the Virginia Military Institute's ban on admitting women.
She was also known for her bold dissents like the ones she wrote when the Court stopped the 2000 Florida ballot recount, struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, and ended the contraception mandate for some businesses under the Affordable Care Act.
GINSBURG: In our view, the court does not comprehend, or is indifferent to the insidious way in which women can be victims of pay discrimination.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In 2007, the High Court ruled against Lilly Ledbetter, a factory supervisor at a tire plant, in a high profile pay discrimination case. Ginsburg urged Congress to take up the issue in her dissent. 20 months later, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was the first bill that President Obama signed into law.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): After Justice John Paul Stevens retired in 2010, Ginsburg became the most senior of her liberal colleagues.
But she didn't slow down. Stephen Colbert discovered that the hard way, trying to keep up with RBG's famously tough workouts. STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT: I'm cramping and I'm working out with an 85-year-old woman.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Ginsburg hired a trainer after treatment for colorectal cancer in the late '90s.
In 2018, doctors treating the Justice for broken ribs discovered cancerous growths on her lung. The surgery was successful, but the recovery caused Ginsburg to miss oral arguments at the Supreme Court for the first time in her career.
She was also treated several times for pancreatic cancer, but always stayed up in her court work. Even after losing her husband of 56 years to cancer, Ginsburg was back on the bench the next morning.
GINSBURG: I love the work I do. I think I have the best job in the world for a lawyer. I respect all of my colleagues and genuinely like most of them.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Her best friend on the bench was the late Justice Antonin Scalia, her ideological opposite.
ANTONIN SCALIA, FORMER ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: What's not to like?
SCALIA: Except her views of the law, of course.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): They shared a laugh about Ginsburg drinking wine before nodding off at the State of the Union.
GINSBURG: I wasn't 100 percent sober because before we went to the State of the Union--
GINSBURG: --we had dinner together. And Justice Kennedy brought in--
SCALIA: Well that's the first intelligent thing you've done.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): In her later years, she gained "Rock Star" status with millennials, thanks to social media.
GINSBURG: It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become "The Notorious RBG."
(MUSIC) SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The nickname was a play on the name of the late rapper, The Notorious B.I.G. There were books, clothing, tattoos, even a species of praying mantis in her honor, along with a recurring SNL sketch.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you just got Ginsburned.
(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): There was a feature film "On the Basis of Sex" and a documentary produced by CNN. "RBG" was an unexpected box office hit and gave the Justice an even larger platform to share her lifelong mission of gender equality.
GINSBURG: People ask me sometimes, "When will there be enough women on the court?" And my answer is, "When there are nine."
(AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
COOPER: So, here's where we are tonight, mourners outside the court, flags at half-staff, there, and at the White House. President Trump has just weighed in, after a campaign stop in Minnesota. CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now from there.
Kaitlan, what did the President say?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Anderson, it was kind of a jarring moment because this news broke just after the President had gone on stage here, in Minnesota.
And so he was up, on stage, for close to two hours, not knowing the news of what had happened, and obviously, altered his campaign that he's experiencing. And then he found out, from reporters, as he was walking back to Air Force One, and he waited, and here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She just died?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
TRUMP: Wow! I didn't know that. I just - you're telling me now for the first time.
She led an amazing life. What else can you say? She was an amazing woman. Whether you agreed or not, she was an amazing woman, who led an amazing life. I'm actually sad to hear that. I am sad to hear that. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: So Anderson, you see there, his first comments as he found out were focusing on RBG's legacy, talking about that, and then he went up the stairs to Air Force One, and they just took off a few moments ago.
But of course, the question next is going to be the political aspect of this, and the President nominating someone.
And we know this has been something that he thinks could help boost his standing with voters even before there was a vacancy on the court. That's why he unveiled that list at the White House just a few weeks ago.
And now, this is going to be something that fundamentally shifts the trajectory of this campaign. It's going to change what these two candidates are talking about on a regular basis.
And one problem the President has had is with suburban women voters. And he has told people, in the last several months, he does think that if he nominated a woman, to the Supreme Court, that it could help boost his standing with women.
So all of these factors, and all these conversations, are going to be something that we're discussing over the next several weeks, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, Kaitlan Collins, Kaitlan, thanks very much.
Joining me now, our Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, the struggle that she had had with cancer, I mean it goes back a long time, and just, it points to the resilience and the strength that she had. I mean it's extraordinary how long she was battling forms of cancer.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It really was. I mean, we would follow her for some time through these hospitalizations, and the various types of treatments.
And I remember it was back in 1999, 20 years ago, she had developed colon cancer. And then it was - the first time that she developed pancreatic cancer was in 2009. Now, it was pretty early stage at that point, Anderson.
They thought it had been treated well. She underwent surgery for it, and she seemed to have sort of recovered from that, and not had any problems, until last year, where there was evidence that there was some recurrence of this cancer. She again underwent treatment for it.
You may remember, in January of this year, said she was cancer-free. And keep in mind, in the midst of all that, she also had a bout with lung cancer. And she fell, broke her ribs, as you just heard a few minutes ago.
And while they were evaluating her, for those broken rib fractures, that's when they found the lung cancer. So, she'd been through a lot.
But in January of this year, she thought she was cancer-free. But it was over the summer that she developed a recurrence. She tried immunotherapy. But there was - there was spread of this cancer to her liver.
And most recently, I believe it was in July, Anderson, the types of therapy that she was then getting at that point were no longer considered curative therapy. And I think, at this point, I think doctors knew that this - whatever treatment she was getting, was not going to cure her pancreatic cancer or even fully treat it.
COOPER: And yet she continued to work. I mean that's the thing that's so stunning to me.
GUPTA: Yes, I mean, she - it was incredible. And these - some of these therapies are, you know, they're tough. I mean they - tough for anybody, someone who is much younger, certainly for someone in their 80s, it's a lot to endure.
And she, as you point out, went through it, and then we were always surprised because we thought she was going to be in the hospital for longer.
And then the next alert we would get from her office would say that the Justice was discharged from the hospital today. She's, you know, plans on returning to work, and she sees no reason that she couldn't return to work.
It was always pretty remarkable. I mean, I know people always talk about her resilience, and how tough she was, and her workouts, and stuff like that.
But I can tell you, just from a medical perspective to go - cracking your ribs, going through rib fractures, going through a lung cancer operation, having all the therapies that she had for pancreatic cancer, all of that falling on, she also had a stent put into one of her coronary blood vessels in her heart, the colon cancer, I mean it's remarkable.
And a lot of that sort of started for her in her late 60s. So, she was already older at that point. And then, over the following 20 years, she really went through a lot, and seemed to bounce out of it each time.
COOPER: And yet, well I mean, all the things she did, over the last 20 years, is just, I mean it's extraordinary what she did with the time that she had. What a life!
COOPER: Sanjay, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
I want to go to our Manu Raju, who's been talking to Congressional sources, covering the angle of what's going to happen now, in terms of a replacement for the Justice, which is obviously something that's already being looked at by Mitch McConnell and others.
Manu, what are you hearing? RAJU: Yes. That's right. I mean Mitch McConnell's making it very clear that he wants to have a vote on the Senate floor before the end of the year. The Ultimate question, Anderson--
COOPER: Let's listen in.
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was not only a giant in the legal profession, but a beloved figure, and my heart goes out to all those who cared for her and cared about her.
And she practiced the highest American ideals, as a Justice, equality and justice under the law. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for all of us. And, as I said, she was a beloved figure.
As young attorney, you all know the story, she persisted overcoming a lot of obstacles for a woman practicing law in those days, as well as she continued until she moved herself in a position where she could end up changing the law of the land, leading the effort to provide equality for women in every field, and she led in the advance of equal rights for women.
It's hard to believe, but it was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearing. I got to meet her at the time and she - in her ascension to the Supreme Court.
In the decades since, she has been absolutely consistent and reliable and a voice for freedom and opportunity for everyone. And she never failed.
She was fierce and unflinching in her pursuit of the civil and legal rights of - civil rights of everyone. Her opinions and her dissent are going to continue to shape the basis for our law for generation.
And tonight, and in the coming days, we should focus on the loss of the Justice and her enduring legacy.
But there is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the President, and the President should pick the Justice, for the Senate to consider. This was the position of the Republican Senate took in 2016, when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today.
And the election is only 46 days off. I think the fastest Justice ever confirmed was 47 days, and the average is closer to 70 days. And so, they should do this with full consideration. And that is my hope and expectation what will happen.
Thank you all. And I'm sorry such a - we had to learn it on a plane ride. But thank you very much. Appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --on adding more justices to the court, sir, you meant? COOPER: Former Vice President Biden reacting to the death of Justice Ginsburg, making clear, from his perspective that it would be inappropriate to - for Mitch McConnell to do what he has now already said he will do, which is bring a vote on a replacement for Justice Ginsburg, for President Trump.
Vice President Biden was talking about filling the position. I want to go back to Manu Raju, who has new reporting on that. I'm sorry to have interrupted you, Manu.
Just bring us up to speed on Mitch McConnell issued a statement, I guess, it was about, little bit more than 50 or so minutes ago.
RAJU: Yes, he made it very clear that the nominee will get a vote before the end of the year.
That means when the Republicans still control the Senate, no matter what happens in November, and when President Trump is in the White House, no matter what happens in November, Trump's replacement will get a vote on the floor of the Senate.
Now, it's unclear when exactly that will happen. Of course, it's unclear who that nominee will be. And it's also unclear whether the Republicans would have the votes to confirm a nominee.
And that is the big question that we will be - we will be dealing with and we'll be reporting out for the next two-plus months here, up until the end of the year, because the Republicans can only afford to lose three senators, if they want to get a nominee confirmed, before the end of the year.
And the ultimate question is that whether there will be Republicans who say, "Look, we'll agree with essentially what Joe Biden said that the next President should make that decision. The next Senate should make that decision."
At the moment, there really are only a handful of Republicans that we are looking at who could fall in that direction. People like Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, others, more institutionalist-type senators who are retiring, like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, where will they ultimately come down, if the Democrats are successful in November.
Now, one question I am told is under consideration and discussion, among Senate Republicans is whether they should try to move before November. Now, it's typical, two to three months is the time frame for moving a nominee. That means after November, but it could presumably fast-track.
And one thing I am told that they are discussing is whether or not there would need to be nine justices on the Supreme Court, to deal with any election disputes. Of course, we expect there to be lots of legal challenges, potentially, potentially over mail-in voting, especially if the election is close. That is going to be a discussion, here in the Senate, whether they need to fast-track a nominee to deal with it come Election Day. But, of course, that raises all sorts of other issues that they will have to consider here.
RAJU: President naming a nominee, who could presumably look over - preside over a disputed election. So, those are all major questions that will decide the balance of the court and will affect Americans' lives for years to come here, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Manu Raju, thanks very much.
Want to talk more about this, Gloria Borger, Jeff Toobin, Paul Begala.
Jeff Toobin, just the idea of does - do there have to be nine justices in order for the court to make a decision, which is what Manu just raised?
TOOBIN: Not at all. In fact, because Mitch McConnell kept Antonin Scalia seat vacant for more than a year, the court functioned fine with eight.
And you mentioned something earlier that I think is worth focusing on a little bit, which is that a lot of people think the number of Supreme Court justices is set in the Constitution. It's not. And it's changed over the years. I mean it hasn't changed for more than 100 years.
But it is - if the Republicans jam through a second nominee in a second seat that many Democrats believe have been stolen, the Democrats, if they control the Presidency, the House and the Senate can increase the number of justices. They can add one, two, three justices to the Supreme Court, if - that's simply a law.
It's not in the Constitution. And you can be sure, if this vacancy is filled, under these extraordinary circumstances, there will be a lot of Democrats who want to do just that, if Joe Biden and the Democrats win in November.
COOPER: Paul Begala, we haven't heard from you tonight. You know a thing or two about political battles on Capitol Hill and the White House. What do you - what do you foresee?
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first my heart does go out to Justice Ginsburg's family and friends.
She was a remarkable person. When President Clinton picked her, and he said to me, "This is the Thurgood Marshall of the Women's Rights Movement," and he was right. And so, I first owe that to her family and friends.
I've been texting with members of the Senate, and it's extraordinary, the Democrats, of course. One Member, for example, very institutionalist, a very moderate
senator who often seeks out bipartisan compromise sounded to me like he's putting war paint on. He said, this would do lasting damage - putting someone on the court in the last months of a Trump presidency, would do lasting damage to the legitimacy of the court.
A more progressive senator told me, there will be no holds barred if we take the majority. Republicans take us for patsies, and too often, they're right. There will be a movement, Jeffrey, to put four, four on the court.
Now, I'm not entirely sure McConnell has those votes though. I know he put out a statement. And I know that that was - I think Congresswoman Shalala was right that that was bad manners. But I think he was trying to force it to make it look like a fait accompli.
The Democrats I've talked to say that Senator Murkowski of Alaska, Republican, has already said, in the past, she would not support one. They believe she will stay true to that.
Chuck Grassley, irascible former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator from Iowa, has in the past said, he would not support an election year nominee.
It would be a lot of pressure on Mitt Romney, who has stood up to Trump, more than anybody else, in the Republican Conference, and then senators who are up for re-elections, Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina.
Even Lindsey Graham, a couple years ago, said he would oppose any Supreme Court nominee in the last year of Trump's terms.
So, all of those senators I just mentioned a moment got has - they have tough re-election bids. And this will be an issue.
Usually, only Republicans vote far more than Democrats on the court. And that's to their credit. A month ago, there was a Pew poll, for the first time, in my experience, where Democrats cared more about the court than Republicans. More Democrats said they were going to vote based on the court than I've ever seen in my life.
So, this is a very, very salient issue for Democrats. And I have - I would just say, I've been talking to some of the more moderate people I know, in the Senate, and they don't sound very moderate about this.
COOPER: Paul, just as you were talking, we've been looking on the other side of screen, at outside the Supreme Court.
And it's really an extraordinary scene. People are gathering to pay their respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I'm not sure that has - that generally happens with the death of a Supreme Court justice. But it may. But I haven't seen something like this.
It's an extraordinary testament to how well-known she was. And the impact that she had not only as a Justice but also for the career that she had had and all that she had done for gender equality and for civil rights before--
BEGALA: That's just amazing.
COOPER: --getting to court.
BEGALA: Had she - right. Had she never been on the Supreme Court, she would have been one of the most consequential figures in the law in the last half century. Add to that this remarkable tenure on the court, the blistering and brilliant dissents, the majority opinions that she wrote in landmark cases.
This is someone who has left an enormous impact on our society, and I think very much for the better.
COOPER: Yes, Gloria, we're no longer showing outside the court. But I mean it is - it's an extraordinary idea that people are going to this - outside this Supreme Court at almost 10 o'clock at night on a Friday night in Washington.
BORGER: It is. And it's - it shows you that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sort of a woman for the ages.
And she has affected women in particular, of all generations, and of all political stripes because one thing women can agree on is that there needs to be some equality for them, no matter where you come from politically.
And Ruth Bader Ginsburg tried to hand that to them every single day of her life. And that's what she worked for.
And so, I do think she's a Justice for the ages. And I do think she is someone that, in a way, although she was a liberal justice, I get that, but she was brilliant. Look, she was friends with Antonin Scalia.
And she was somebody who paved the way for women. And I think no matter what political persuasion you are, whether you agree with her, on issues, you can say "That was a woman who was a pioneer for me, and for others." And I think that's what you're seeing on the steps of the Supreme Court tonight.
It is political. Sure. But lots of women can look to her, and say, "I wouldn't be where I am if it weren't for Ruth Bader Ginsburg."
COOPER: Jeff, I mean you've written extensively about the Supreme Court in two books which I've actually read, which are awesome and really fascinating. It's such an interesting institution that people don't really know much about how it works behind the scenes.
What role did she play - I mean, obviously, we know on her political positions, but just in terms of interacting with all the other justices?
TOOBIN: She was famous for a time for her friendship with Antonin Scalia.
Marty Ginsburg was a great chef and Antonin Scalia was a great eater. And they would spend New Year's Eve together every year, where Marty would cook, and the Ginsburgs and Scalias would enjoy his cooking together.
That is something that is rare in American politics these days. You don't see those kinds of friendships across the aisle in the United States Senate the way you used to 20 years and 30 years ago.
But no one should mistake her friendship with the adversary for the intensity of her feelings and the intensity of her political and legal passions, which were strong and often thwarted during her 27 years--
TOOBIN: --on the court. There's no sugarcoating the fact that she was in dissent in a lot of important cases.
COOPER: Yes. Stay with us for more on the death and remarkable life of Justice Ginsburg, right after this.
COOPER: Looking tonight at the scene outside the Supreme Court, after the passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Our coverage continues now with Don Lemon and "CNN TONIGHT." Don?
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TEXT: BREAKING NEWS.
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DON LEMON, CNN HOST, CNN TONIGHT WITH DON LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I am Don Lemon.
We have sad breaking news, especially for the entire country. But for those who have loved and have lost a woman figure in your life, a grandmother figure that you have looked up to.