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Political leaders from both sides of the aisle, former presidents and the chief justice of the United States offered tributes to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, remembering her as a trailblazer and a champion for justice.

The sudden news of Ginsburg's death jolted the political world in Washington and reverberated far beyond.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and the minority leader, in a tweet wrote: "Tonight, we mourn the passing of a giant in American history, a champion for justice, a trailblazer for women. She would want us all to fight as hard as we can to preserve her legacy."

Former President Bill Clinton, who appointed Ginsburg, said her 27 years on the court "exceeded even my highest expectations."

"With the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, America has lost one of the most extraordinary Justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court," Clinton said. "She was a magnificent judge and a wonderful person -- a brilliant lawyer with a caring heart, common sense, fierce devotion to fairness and equality, and boundless courage in the face of her own adversity."

Former President George W. Bush, a Republican, said in a statement that the justice "loved our country."

"She dedicated many of her 87 remarkable years to the pursuit of justice and equality, and she inspired more than one generation of women and girls," he said.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., a former prosecutor, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a former presidential candidate, said of Ginsburg on Twitter: "An icon. A hero. A woman way ahead of her time."

"Ruth Bader Ginsburg stood for all of us. She fought for all of us. ... It was my honor to preside over her confirmation hearings and to strongly support her accession to the Supreme Court," said Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator from South Carolina called the justice "a trailblazer who possessed tremendous passion for her causes."

"She served with honor and distinction as a member of the Supreme Court," he said on Twitter. "While I had many differences with her on legal philosophy, I appreciate her service to our nation."

The chief justice, John Roberts, said in a statement released by the court: "Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature. 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."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff, her deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, said on Twitter.

Pelosi said Ginsburg's death is "an incalculable loss for our democracy and for all who sacrifice and strive to build a better future for our children."

The Democratic leader said Friday that Congress must ensure that the person who replaces Ginsburg on the court "upholds her commitment to equality, opportunity and justice for all."

Former President Jimmy Carter said Friday that he and his wife, Rosalynn, were saddened by Ginsburg's death and praised her as a "beacon of justice" over a long and remarkable career.

"A powerful legal mind and a staunch advocate for gender equality, she has been a beacon of justice during her long and remarkable career," Carter's statement said. "We join countless Americans in mourning the loss of a truly great woman. We will keep her family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday night to mourn her passing.

Dozens in the crowd lit candles and sat somberly on the high court's steps.

Information for this article was contributed by Christopher Mele of The New York Times; and by The Associated Press.

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