U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, lauded as a champion of gender equality, died Sept. 18 of complications from pancreatic cancer at her home in Washington, D.C., with her family at her side, National Public Radio reported.

From the same NPR article: “Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “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.”

Ginsburg served 27 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, having been nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and confirmed, 96-3, by the U.S. Senate. She was known as an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and later for gender equality, and was a key voter on the liberal side of the court.

As our nation gears up for a battle of dueling philosophies to fill her position on the court, let us take just a moment to remember this diminutive woman whose fierce intellect and courage led her to become the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Before she was ever a judge, Ginsburg worked as an attorney to fight for equal protection under the law for women. In the 1970s, NPR reports, hundreds of state and federal laws restricted what women could do, barring them from jobs, rights and even from jury service. Ginsburg fought so that girls could play high school sports, so that women could own property, open their own checking accounts and enjoy all the same rights as men.

We recognize Ginsburg for her contributions to equality in U.S. society, for having the courage to be one of only nine women in a class of more than 500 at Harvard Law School, for being a wife, a mother and a brilliant jurist. She was the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School and she founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

While she will surely be remembered for her many legal victories as an attorney and the decisions she authored on the U.S. Supreme Court, it is our fervent wish that the liberals and conservatives who populate the U.S. Senate today would look at Ginsburg’s ability to be a close friend of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, an avowed conservative. These two very different judges were able to enjoy a close personal friendship and a cordial work relationship. They found common ground somewhere and built on it. Their friendship and professional relationship should serve as a model for our elected officials today. Would that Republicans and Democrats could work as closely together as these two brilliant judges and design legislation that truly benefits citizens.

Here are comments from Montana’s top elected officials on Ginsburg’s death:

Gov. Steve Bullock: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a torch-bearer and a champion of justice and equality. Justice Ginsburg’s peerless work spanned over half a century, and will continue to serve as an inspiration to so many attorneys, activists and young women who look up to her as their hero, including my own daughters. She devoted herself to safeguarding our democracy, keeping her watch on the bench until the very end of her life. My wife Lisa and I send our condolences to her family and loved ones.”

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines: “Justice Ginsburg lived an incredible life, full of historic accomplishments. She was a courageous fighter in both the courtroom and in her longtime health battles. My deepest condolences to the family, friends and Americans mourning her passing.”

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester: “Tonight this country mourns an icon. Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer who devoted her entire life to equal justice. May her memory be a blessing.”

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte: “Our nation lost a trailblazing giant with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who served on our land’s highest court for nearly three decades. Susan and I join Montanans in praying for Justice Ginsburg's family, her colleagues, and our country.”