Americans mourn Ginsburg's death

People have gathered across America to mourn Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
People have gathered across America to mourn Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Grief-stricken Americans gathered at makeshift memorials around the country on Saturday to mourn the death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal, feminist icon, as President Donald Trump signalled his intention to fill the vacancy weeks before a heated election.

Democratic Party vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, joined crowds outside the steps of the US Supreme Court in Washington on Saturday morning.

Ginsburg was "a titan - a relentless defender of justice and a legal mind for the ages", Harris wrote in a tweet. "The stakes of this election couldn't be higher."

Some on the Supreme Court steps clutched candles, flowers, signs, and young children.

Others appeared in running and biking clothes, on a detour from their morning exercising.

Ginsburg, 87, died on Friday night after a battle with pancreatic cancer, giving President Donald Trump a chance to expand the US top court's conservative majority at a time of deep divisions in America as a presidential election looms.

Candlelight tributes to Ginsburg started on Friday evening and were expected to continue through the weekend, and a fierce political fight kicked off as hundreds protested outside Republican US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's home in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday.

On Friday, McConnell said the Senate would vote on any replacement nominated by Trump.

Mourners heralded Ginsburg's groundbreaking legal career and expressed dark worries about the future of the country.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cynthia Enloe channelled her grief by making a poster encouraging motorists to honk in honour of the pioneer of women's rights and stood at a busy intersection on Saturday morning.

"When I heard the terrible news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death last night, my first thoughts and all my friends on email and text was, 'this is horrible, it cannot get worse,'" Enloe told Reuters.

"But then I thought, they want us to get depressed and I thought I will do the opposite of being depressed. I will go out and make a poster and stand at the intersection and let people honk their support."

Hollywood celebrities paid tribute online. "I am heartbroken," actor Jennifer Lopez wrote on Instagram. "She was a true champion of gender equality and was a strong woman for me and all the little girls of the world to look up to."

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans to erect a statue of Ginsburg - A trailblazing women's rights lawyer before she joined the court in 1993 - in New York City's Brooklyn where she was born.

Just before midnight on Friday, a woman at the Supreme Court sang the mourners' Kaddish, a traditional Jewish prayer for the dead, on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year.

In liberal San Francisco on Friday night, more than 200 mourners held a candlelight vigil and marched through the city's Castro district carrying a large sign that said "We won't let you down RBG".

Australian Associated Press