Supreme Court justices honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg as new court term begins

Ginsburg died last month of cancer

The Supreme Court began its new term with a tribute from the bench for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last month of cancer.

Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday read a short tribute to Ginsburg, noting the empty courtroom bench was draped in black cloth as a memorial.

“Justice Ginsburg’s contributions as advocate, jurist and citizen are immeasurable,” Roberts said. “We at the court will remember her as a dear friend and treasured colleague.

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The court is hearing oral arguments in two cases Monday. The courtroom is not being used, and the justices are working remotely by teleconference because of the pandemic.

The eight justices are getting back to work Monday at a most unusual, politically fraught moment in American history. They're still mourning the death of their colleague Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the leader of the court's liberal wing. They're working in the midst of a pandemic that has forced the court to drastically change the way it conducts business. And the presidential election is less than a month away.

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President Trump's nominee for Ginsburg's seat, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, could be on the bench in time for one of the term's biggest cases, post-Election Day arguments in the latest Republican bid to strike down the Affordable Care Act, which provides more than 20 million people with health insurance.

Barrett's confirmation would cement a 6-3 conservative majority and diminish Chief Justice John Roberts' ability to moderate the court's decisions. That's because conservatives would have five votes even in cases where Roberts might side with the remaining three liberal justices.

The Associated Press contributes to this report.