Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a diminutive yet towering women’s rights champion who became the court’s second female justice, has died at her home in Washington. She was 87.

The court says Ginsburg died Friday of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg

In this 6th February, 2017, file photo, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. The Supreme Court says Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. PICTURE: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez/File photo.

Ginsburg announced in July that she was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for lesions on her liver, the latest of her several battles with cancer.

Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers. Young women especially seemed to embrace the court’s Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defence of the rights of women and minorities, and the strength and resilience she displayed in the face of personal loss and health crises.

Those health issues included five bouts with cancer beginning in 1999, falls that resulted in broken ribs, insertion of a stent to clear a blocked artery and assorted other hospitalisations after she turned 75.

President Donald Trump said the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a “titan of the law".

In a statement posted on Twitter, Trump said Ginsburg was “renowned for her brilliant mind and her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court” and she demonstrated “that one can disagree without being disagreeable toward one’s colleagues or different points of view.” 

Trump did not mention whether he’d nominate a new justice, though he had boasted in the speech that the next presidential term could offer him as many as four appointments to the nine-member court.

The President later issued a proclamation directing that flags at the White House and all public buildings and grounds and military facilities be flown at half-staff until Ginsburg is interred. 

The President has also directed that flags be flown at half-staff at all US embassies and other facilities abroad. The proclamation calls Ginsburg “a trailblazer, not only in the field of law, but in the history of our country.”

Hundreds of people gathered outside the US Supreme Court to mourn the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Dozens in the crowd were lighting candles on Friday night and sat somberly on the high court’s steps. The crowd left candles, flowers, small American flags and handwritten condolence messages. Some wept as they placed the bouquets of flowers on the steps. “RBG” was also drawn inside a pink chalk heart in the sidewalk. Flags outside the court were also flying at half staff.

Former presidents were among those who paid tribute.

Barack Obama said Ginsburg was “a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist” who “inspired generations, from the tiniest trick-or-treaters to law students burning the midnight oil to the most powerful leaders in the land".

He said Ginsburg should be remembered for fighting to the end of her life, through her cancer “with unwavering faith in our democracy and its ideals".

The former President said Republicans, who in 2016 refused to consider his nominee for a court vacancy eight months before an election, must follow the same principle now. The 2020 election is a month-and-a-half away.

Obama said a basic principle of the law and everyday fairness “is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment".

He noted that early voting in the presidential contest has already begun in some states and said questions pending before the court and expected to reach it in the coming years “are too consequential to “to be filled through anything less than an unimpeachable process.”