Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Becomes 1st Woman To Lie In State

Sep 25, 2020
Originally published on September 25, 2020 6:37 pm

Updated at 1:47 p.m. ET

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lay in state Friday at the U.S. Capitol, the first woman and the first Jewish person to be given that honor in the nation's history.

Ginsburg's casket was carried into Statuary Hall, just outside the House of Representatives' chamber, by an armed forces honor guard. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., presided over a brief ceremony.

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, who also eulogized Ginsburg as she lay in repose at the U.S. Supreme Court, said of Ginsburg Friday, "As a lawyer she won equality for women and men, not in one swift victory, but brick by brick, case by case. Through meticulous, careful lawyering, she changed the course of American law."


Mezzo-soprano opera singer Denyce Graves performed a tribute to the late justice — who was an opera aficionado — and members of Congress filed past Ginsburg's casket.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, were also in attendance, along with vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris.

As she left, Harris was asked whether Ginsburg cleared a path for her. "Absolutely," she responded.

"Because she first of all made America see what leadership looks like, and in the law, in terms of public service, and she broke so many barriers. And I know that she did it intentionally, knowing that people like me could follow," she said.

Ginsburg, who was described as "tough as nails" for incrementally taking on gender equality cases, became a feminist icon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, right, sends Ginsburg off.
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death spurred debate within the presidential race about nomination to fill her seat. "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed," Ginsburg said, before she passed at age 87 from complications of pancreatic cancer.
Carol Guzy for NPR
The flag-draped coffin of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives to the U.S. Capitol where she will lie in state for two hours in Washington, D.C.
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Joint Chiefs of Staff also also paid tribute.

Notably absent from the ceremony were Congress' two top Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the first woman to be given this honor to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
Carol Guzy for NPR
Female Democratic senators and congresswomen including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer line up to bid farewell to the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Cheryl Diaz Meyer for NPR

At the end of the memorial, Ginsburg's casket was carried down the Capitol steps past four rows of women lawmakers, who stood with hands on hearts.

Thousands of mourners paid their respects to Ginsburg during the two days her casket rested at the top of the Supreme Court steps, including former President Bill Clinton, who nominated her to the high court in 1993, and President Trump.

Trump's visit prompted shouting from the crowd of "honor her wish," referring to the justice's hope that she would not be replaced on the court "until a new president is installed." Trump has said he will announce his choice to succeed Ginsburg on Saturday.

Ginsburg will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday, after Yom Kippur, next to her husband, Marty.

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