"It makes it plain that we cannot take this election for granted," she said. "Not now. Not ever."

By Nick Romano
September 24, 2020 at 09:19 AM EDT

As the nation continues to mourn the death of Supreme Court Justice and pop culture icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former First Lady Michelle Obama shared some words about the "icon," "role model," and "dear friend" with late-night host Conan O'Brien.

O'Brien, who conducted the lengthy interview for the Wednesday night episode of Conan, had mentioned earlier how his mother was one of the first women to attend Yale Law. "I think about that and about the determination and the sheer intelligence it took for people like Justice Ginsburg, and your mother, and so many other women — well, not many of them because there are very few of them in that generation — who were at the frontlines of opening up opportunities for all of us," Obama said.

"Her entire legal career, her time on the Supreme Court really pushed open a new set of possibilities for women all over the country and all over the world," she continued. "And to lose that kind of icon in this time that we're in, because we're facing some difficult times, it's heartbreaking but it should also be eyeopening."

While Obama is used to speaking about the importance of voting, especially during an election year, she said sometimes the power of a president to appoint Supreme Court Justices "doesn't feel real to people."

"It's not motivating enough because they're like, 'What does this mean?'" she said. "But now that we’ve lost this icon, and the balance of power in the Supreme Court lays in the hands of this sitting president and will impact the lives of young people for generations to come, it is all too real what having someone like her on the Court has meant. But it makes it plain that we cannot take this election for granted. Not now. Not ever.”

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