Home / World News / Live Stream: RBG Lies in Repose

Live Stream: RBG Lies in Repose

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lying in repose at the top of the Supreme Court steps on Wednesday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was honored on Wednesday as a pioneer of women’s rights who brought the nation closer to its vision of equal justice through a storied career as a lawyer and on the bench.

In a short, simple and modest ceremony in keeping with her own reputation for humility, Justice Ginsburg’s family and fellow members of the Supreme Court paid their respects in the Great Hall of the building where she served for 27 years. Her coffin was then brought outside, where she will lie in repose as Americans bid farewell over the next two days.

“Justice Ginsburg’s life was one of the many versions of the American dream,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said during the ceremony inside the building. “Her father was an immigrant from Odessa. Her mother was born four months after her family arrived from Poland. Her mother later worked as a bookkeeper in Brooklyn. Ruth used to ask what is the difference in a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court justice. Her answer: one generation.”

The chief justice, who was the only one to speak other than Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, recalled that Justice Ginsburg wanted to be an opera singer but pursued law only to find herself the subject of discrimination because of her sex at law school and in the work force. She went on to become perhaps the country’s leading advocate fighting that discrimination.

Credit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik
Credit…Pool photo by Alex Brandon

“She was not an opera star, but she found her stage right behind me in our courtroom,” the chief justice said. “There, she won famous victories that helped move our nation closer to equal justice under law, to the extent that women are now a majority in law schools, not simply a handful. Later, she became a star on the bench.”

He said her 483 opinions — majority, concurring and dissenting — would “steer the court for decades” to come. “They are written with the unaffected grace of precision,” he said. “Her voice in court and in our conference room was soft, but when she spoke, people listened.”

The chief justice was joined by the other seven current members of the court, seated in order of seniority, as well as Anthony M. Kennedy, the retired justice, and several of their spouses, all wearing face masks and sitting apart in keeping with social-distancing guidelines because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony lasted 18 minutes from the time the coffin was brought into the hall by Supreme Court police officers serving as pallbearers. Justice Ginsburg’s former clerks lined the steps of the court building before the ceremony and as the coffin was placed on the portico while visitors paying their respects filed past at the bottom of the stairs.

Former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Mr. Clinton nominated Justice Ginsburg to the bench in 1993.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Prominent politicians from both parties took turns climbing the steps of the Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon to pay their respects to Justice Ginsburg, including former President Bill Clinton, who nominated her, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The Clintons stood solemnly beside Justice Ginsburg’s coffin, and Mr. Clinton’s office issued a statement honoring her as mourners crowded around the court to commemorate her loss.

“With the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, America has lost one of the most extraordinary justices ever to serve on the Supreme Court,” the statement 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.”

Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and one of only two members of her party to oppose the push to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ginsburg just weeks before the presidential election, crossed the street from the Capitol to mourn her as well.

“It was a very moving experience,” Ms. Collins said afterward. “Although I obviously didn’t agree with all of her decisions, I admired her principled approach to every issue. This loss is personal as well as professional.”

“This loss is personal as well as professional,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

A parade of Democratic lawmakers also went by to pay their respects on Wednesday, including Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader; Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts; Chris Coons of Delaware and Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, as well as Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont.

Mr. Schumer and Mr. Sanders are both alumni of James Madison High School in Brooklyn, which Justice Ginsburg also attended.

“She was obviously an incredibly brave and brilliant woman, and she has made a mark on history,” Mr. Sanders said. “She will not be forgotten.”

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Hundreds of mourners, some of whom had traveled great distances, lined the street outside the Supreme Court to say goodbye to Justice Ginsburg.

The wait for some visitors lasted hours, and each had their own story about the impact the justice had made on his or her life.

For Carolyn Curry Tallman, 51, who wore a mask emblazoned with Justice Ginsburg’s face, and her friend Renee Bobbitt, 43, the justice represented a trailblazer who not only made their own careers possible but paved a future for their daughters.

“We’re both mothers to daughters,” Ms. Curry Tallman said. “We’re here for them.”

The friends, from Merritt Island, Fla., had been lamenting the loss of Ms. Ginsburg on Tuesday morning when they decided to fly to Washington to honor her and booked an evening flight.

“We’re here for the history we wanted to witness,” said Ms. Curry Tallman, a compliance officer at an investment bank. “I’ve had an almost 30-year career in Wall Street, and I don’t think I would have had six months without her; I would never have gotten my foot in the door.”

For Lara Gambony, 52, and Kathleen Dungan, 57, honoring Ms. Ginsburg was a tribute to their mothers.

“It’s not only for ourselves but for my mother’s generation,” Ms. Gambony said, holding an American flag and choking back tears. “She forced the courts to see us as human, and that we had brains and we deserve our full rights.”

The two friends drove from Grayslake, Ill., to be at the Supreme Court early Wednesday.

“She really has helped bring women along. She’s a hero,” Ms. Dungan said. “We came out of respect and love for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. This is still our country.”

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Tonya Wells, 51, in a mask with an image of the justice, flew from Grosse Pointe, Mich., with her daughter on Tuesday night to pay their respects. Choking up, Ms. Wells said that the justice’s death had prompted her own self-reflection about how to honor her legacy and spurred her to volunteer more with former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign.

“I just felt the sense that I was compelled to be here,” she said. “R.B.G. is just such a representation of goodness and justice and a person who was willing to give her entire life to making things better for people.”

Her daughter Katherine Nottmeier, 17, chimed in that as a young woman, she was fearful of a Supreme Court without Justice Ginsburg.

“It’s definitely scary,” she said. “I feel like my rights could be taken away at any point.”

Brenna Means, 26, from Potomac, Md., said she grew up in Washington reading and learning from Justice Ginsburg’s opinions. She hoped that the response to the justice’s death would show the Trump administration and the Senate that the Supreme Court needed balance, not a strong conservative justice.

“How could anybody not come for this?” said Lois Dunlop, 75, who placed her hand over her heart and bowed her head as she viewed the justice’s coffin. “It is a privilege to be a Washingtonian and to be able to come thank her.”

Former clerks for Justice Ginsburg served as honorary pallbearers on Wednesday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

A small army of Justice Ginsburg’s former law clerks lined the steps of the Supreme Court as honorary pallbearers to see their former boss return to the court to lie in repose.

Over her 27 years on the court, Justice Ginsburg hired more than 100 clerks, generally just a year out of law school, for yearlong apprenticeships, and they were devoted to her. Though their careers have scattered them around the nation and the world, very few of them seemed to be missing on Wednesday.

Five former clerks said in interviews that Justice Ginsburg continued to be a mentor long after they had left her chambers, and Wednesday was a day for them to reflect on the impact she had.

Justice Ginsburg would often send new parents who worked for her a onesie emblazoned with “grandclerk,” said Trevor W. Morrison, a former clerk and the dean of New York University School of Law.

Kelsi Corkran, who clerked for the justice from 2013 to 2014 and leads the Supreme Court practice at the law firm Orrick, said she often tried to emulate her former boss. Though the justice was quiet, Ms. Corkran said, her voice was powerful.

“The content of her words was always forceful and true and strong,” Ms. Corkran said, “and I always try to do that in my own work.”

Lucille Wilson, 3, of Chesapeake Beach, Md., could barely walk 10 steps without someone asking for a photograph of her dressed in black as Justice Ginsburg.Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Among the crowd of mourners lined up outside the Supreme Court were some of Justice Ginsburg’s littlest fans.

Lucille Wilson, 3, of Chesapeake Beach, Md., could barely walk 10 steps without someone asking for a photograph of her dressed in black as the legal titan.

“We have a book called ‘I Dissent’ that she likes to read,” said Lucille’s mother, Meghann Wilson, 38. “All day she keeps saying, ‘I look just like Ruth in the book.’”

After Justice Ginsburg’s death, Ms. Wilson said, “my daughter’s future is in the forefront of our minds.”

“You always want more for your children than you had, right? So I want my daughter to be able to do more and achieve more,” Ms. Wilson added.

Not far away in line was Cristina DiPiazza, 38, a social worker who drove from Pittsburgh with her daughter, Frankie Frezzell, 2, who was also dressed up as the justice.

Frankie was Justice Ginsburg for Halloween last year, a costume that Ms. DiPiazza said she chose to instill in her powerful female role models.

Though her daughter might not remember the day, Ms. DiPiazza said she planned to take photographs so that she could ask questions about the trip.

To Ms. DiPiazza, Justice Ginsburg represented intelligence and femininity — and “not letting the world hold those things against her.”

“Those are things that are important for me for my daughter,” she said.

Tabitha Frazier of Tallahassee, Fla., drove to Washington on Tuesday with her 10-year-old son, Kellen, and 15-year-old daughter, Skylar, wanting to pay respects in person at a time of political uncertainty.

“Her passing marks new events for this country, and it’s something we need to memorialize and recognize,” Skylar Frazier said.

As for her youngest, Ms. Frazier said she knew that he would one day understand the importance of this moment in history.

“I want him to always have the memory of when he learned the impact of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Ms. Frazier said. “I want him to always know that his mom took him there.”

Justice Ginsburg’s coffin arriving at the Supreme Court on Wednesday.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Shortly after 9:30 a.m., Justice Ginsburg, who died on Friday at 87, made a final trip to the Supreme Court, starting three days of extraordinary honors for a transformative figure in American law. Her coffin was carried up the court’s grand marble steps by the Supreme Court police, flanked by lines of the justice’s former law clerks — spread out for social distance — who served as honorary pallbearers.

Justice Ginsburg’s coffin rests on a catafalque, on loan from Congress, that once held President Abraham Lincoln’s remains.

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the events to honor her:

Justice Ginsburg lies in repose outside the courthouse, under the portico at the top of the front steps. The public is invited to pay its respects from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday and again from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday. The court requires masks and social distancing.

President Trump is expected to pay his respects at the court on Thursday.

At the Capitol on Friday, there will be a small private ceremony honoring Justice Ginsburg and she will lie in state in Statuary Hall, the first woman to receive that honor. Lawmakers will then be invited to pay their respects in groups of about 40 at a time, with women given the first slots to honor her.

She is expected to be buried next week in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, where her husband, Martin D. Ginsburg, was buried in 2010.

Video

transcript

transcript

Ginsburg’s ‘Brilliance and Vision’ Honored at Supreme Court Ceremony

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt from Adas Israel Congregation in Washington honored Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court.

To be born into a world that does not see you, that does not believe in your potential, that does not give you a path for opportunity or a clear path for education, and despite this, to be able to see beyond the world you are in to imagine that something can be different: That is the job of a prophet. And it is the rare prophet who not only imagines a new world, but also makes that new world a reality in her lifetime. This was the brilliance and vision of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Torah is relentless in reminding, in instructing, in commanding that we never forget those who live in the shadows, those whose freedom and opportunity are not guaranteed.

Video player loading
Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt from Adas Israel Congregation in Washington honored Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt from Adas Israel Congregation in Washington honored Justice Ginsburg as “a path-marking role model to women and girl of all ages” during a private ceremony for family, clerks and friends in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court.

“Today we stand in mourning of an American hero,” Rabbi Holtzblatt said, standing before Justice Ginsburg’s flag-draped coffin and in front of an oil portrait of her flanked with flowers as mourners looked on.

After chanting the 23rd Psalm, Adonai Roi — a traditional Jewish song of mourning — in Hebrew and English, the rabbi eulogized Justice Ginsburg as a pioneering woman who had left a lasting legacy in the law and in generations of women who benefited from her example.

“To be born into a world that does not see you, that does not believe in your potential, that does not give you a path for opportunity or a clear path for education — and despite this, to be able to see beyond the world you are in, to imagine that something can be different — that is the job of a prophet,” Rabbi Holtzblatt said. “It’s the rare prophet who not only imagines a new world, but also makes that new world a reality in her lifetime. This was the brilliance and vision of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”

The rabbi described Justice Ginsburg’s “life’s work: to insist that the Constitution deliver on its promise — that ‘We the people’ would include all the people.”

“Nothing could stop Justice Ginsburg’s unflagging devotion to this project, not even cancer,” said Rabbi Holtzblatt, whose husband, Ari Holtzblatt, clerked for Justice Ginsburg from 2014 to 2015.

As mourners stood in the marble hall, the rabbi chanted a Jewish prayer of remembrance and mercy, “El Malei Rachamim” (God Full of Compassion).

Video

transcript

transcript

‘When She Spoke, People Listened’: Roberts Remembers Ginsburg

In remarks honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. described Justice Ginsburg as a symbol of the American dream.

It has been said that Ruth wanted to be an opera virtuoso, but became a rock star instead. But she chose the law. Subjected to discrimination in law school and the job market because she was a woman, Ruth would grow to become the leading advocate fighting such discrimination in court. She was not an opera star, but she found her stage, right behind me in our courtroom. There she won famous victories that helped move our nation closer to equal justice under law to the extent that women are now a majority in law schools, not simply a handful. Her 483 majority concurring and dissenting opinions will steer the court for decades. They are written with the unaffected grace of precision. Her voice in court and in our conference room was soft. But when she spoke, people listened. Among the words that best describe Ruth: tough, brave, a fighter, a winner, but also thoughtful, careful, compassionate, honest.

Video player loading
In remarks honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. described Justice Ginsburg as a symbol of the American dream.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. spoke of Justice Ginsburg as a version of the American dream, the daughter of immigrants.

“It has been said that Ruth wanted to be an opera virtuoso but became a rock star instead,” he said. “But she chose the law. Subjected to discrimination in law school and the job market because she was a woman.”

Underscoring the importance of reaching across ideological divides at a particularly searing moment, Chief Justice Roberts talked about Justice Ginsburg’s friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016 and was a member of the conservative wing of the court, and recalled them riding an elephant together in India.

“In the photograph, she’s riding with a dear friend, a friend with totally divergent views,” Justice Roberts said. “There’s no indication in the photo that either was poised to push the other off.”

Senator Mitt Romney expressed his support on Tuesday to fill the Supreme Court seat.Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said on Tuesday that he would back President Trump’s push to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, cementing all but monolithic Republican support six weeks before the presidential election for confirming a new justice who would tilt the court decisively to the right.

Mr. Romney’s decision capped off an extraordinarily swift and enthusiastic rally by Republicans around Mr. Trump’s position that underscored his iron grip on the party four years into his presidency. But it also reflected the political bargain that has been driving Republicans for much of the past four years.

Republican senators have loyally stood behind the president at every turn, even as he trampled party principles, shattered institutional norms and made crass statements — all in the service of empowering their own party to install a generation of conservative judges in the nation’s federal courts.

Now, with the biggest prize of all in reach — a third seat further tipping the Supreme Court to the right — they are rushing to collect on their bet, even if it is the last thing they do before they lose their Senate majority, Mr. Trump loses the presidency, or both.

With Mr. Trump planning to wait until Saturday to announce his nominee at the White House, Senate leaders remained publicly undecided about whether to try to rush through a confirmation vote before the election on Nov. 3. But Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have begun privately making preparations for a confirmation process that could play out in as little as a month, a drastically abbreviated timeline compared with other recent Supreme Court nominees.

President Trump plans to announce his nominee on Saturday.Credit…Oliver Contreras for The New York Times

Democrats, conceding that they did not have the power to stop it, unleashed a torrent of anger and parliamentary tactics intended to disrupt Senate business. They accused Republicans of gross hypocrisy, pointing to their refusal in early 2016 to consider Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, because it was an election year.

“They are fighting to reverse Justice Ginsburg’s legacy, not honor it,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader. He made a point on the Senate floor on Wednesday morning of formally inquiring whether a Supreme Court justice had ever been confirmed in a presidential election year between July and Election Day. (Official documents “do not show such a precedent,” said Senator Kelly Loeffler, Republican of Georgia, who was presiding over the Senate at the time.)

The partisan rancor extended to a nonbinding resolution honoring Justice Ginsburg’s life, which failed to pass on Tuesday because Democrats sought to include language in the measure recognizing her wish that the next president select her successor.

“For the Democratic leader, two things qualify as a crisis when it comes to the courts,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “The sky is falling when a Democratic president does not get to confirm every last judge he or she wants, and the sky is falling when a Republican president gets to confirm any — any — judges.”

By Tuesday, it appeared that Republican leaders and Mr. Trump would hold defections in their own party to just two: Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, who have said they would not support filling the vacancy so close to the election.

At the White House, Mr. Trump and his advisers continued to contemplate a handful of possible nominees, all women, before the announcement on Saturday. Mr. McConnell, who has been the architect of Republicans’ record-breaking success in filling the courts, said the party would lay out a timeline for the confirmation process as soon as Mr. Trump settled on his pick.

Outside Kings County Supreme Court on Saturday, Emily Anadu, left, her mother, Carolyn Anadu, and her sister, Margaret Anadu, paid their respects to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Credit…Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a child of Brooklyn long before she was Notorious — daughter of Jewish immigrants, graduate of P.S. 238 and James Madison High School (class of 1950), cheerleader known as Kiki Bader, member of the East Midwood Jewish Center.

She lived on the first floor of a two-story house on East Ninth Street in the multiethnic Midwood neighborhood and fed her mind at the local public library branch, upstairs from a Chinese restaurant and a beauty parlor.

“She’s part of the folklore of the community,” said Joseph Dorinson, who lives in the neighborhood and has taught at James Madison. “My neighbor’s brother dated her.”

Howard Teich, the founding chairman of the Brooklyn Jewish Historical Initiative, said Justice Ginsburg resonated so profoundly with Brooklynites — the elders who followed her judicial career and the young people who loved the pop icon — because she represented the values of her block.

“It’s a place that lends itself to the values of modesty and people living with each other, and that has lasted her through her lifetime,” he said. As an emblem of pride, he added, “she’s singular in terms of who she was.”

Hundreds gathered at a vigil in Foley Square in Manhattan on Saturday.Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Over the weekend, as news spread of Justice Ginsburg’s death on Friday, makeshift memorials of candles, signs, flowers and even an R.B.G. action figure went up outside James Madison High School and her childhood home. Hundreds gathered Saturday night outside the courthouse in Foley Square in Manhattan, holding candles and singing the civil rights anthem “Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Stayed on Freedom,” and a vigil was also held outside Kings County Supreme Court. Handwritten signs in different parts of Brooklyn urged neighbors to honor her legacy by voting.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state would erect a statue in her honor in Brooklyn. It will be only the fifth statue that Mr. Cuomo’s administration has created since he took office in 2011.

And over the weekend, state monuments were bathed in blue light, her favorite color. At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the display board posted her encouragement: “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

OBITUARY

Video

transcript

transcript

The Radical Project of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court’s feminist icon, not only changed the law, she also transformed the roles of men and women in society, according to Linda Greenhouse, contributing writer and former Supreme Court Correspondent for The Times.

“I surely would not be in this room today without the determined efforts of men and women who kept dreams alive, dreams of equal citizenship.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the Supreme Court’s feminist icon. Small, soft-spoken, yet fiercely determined, she was an unstoppable force who transformed the law and defied social conventions. “To her fans she’s known as Notorious R.B.G.” Singing: “Supreme Court’s a boys club. She holds it down, no cares given. Who else got six movies about ’em and still livin’?” Ginsburg was hailed as a crusader for women’s rights. Chanting: “D-I-S-S-E-N-T. We’re Notorious R.B.G.!” But her legal legacy was even more sweeping. “The project she brought to the Supreme Court first as the leading women’s rights lawyer of her day, and then as a justice for all those years, I actually think has been kind of misunderstood. She had a really radical project to erase the functional difference between men and women in society. She wanted to make it clear that there should be no such thing as women’s work and men’s work.” “Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the court.” In fact, in many of the landmark cases Ginsburg argued before the Supreme Court as a young lawyer for the A.C.L.U., her clients were often men. One key case involved a man from New Jersey, whose wife died during childbirth. “Stephen Wiesenfeld’s case concerns the entitlement —” He wanted to work less and stay home with his son, but found out only widows, not widowers, were eligible for Social Security payments. “Ruth Ginsburg went to court on his behalf and said that law, that distinction between mothers and fathers incorporates a stereotyped assumption of what women do and what men do in the family, and is unconstitutional.” “Laws of this quality help to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.” “She won. And that was the kind of case that she brought. And it was really very significant in the march toward the court establishing a jurisprudence of sex equality.” What inspired Ginsburg to take on such a bold project, and there was little sign of anything radical in the beginning. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg grew up in Brooklyn in a lower middle-class family. When she was in high school, she was a twirler. You know, a cheerleader with a baton. She was known as Kiki Bader. And she played a very traditional female role in her high school.” Ginsburg’s mother, who’d been a star student until she was forced to drop out of school to put her brother through college, had big ambitions for her daughter. But the day before Ruth’s high school graduation, her mother died of cancer. It was that shattering loss, Ginsburg said many years later, that instilled in her the determination to live a life her mother could have only dreamed about. “I pray that I may be all that she would have been had she lived in an age when women could aspire and achieve, and daughters are cherished as much as sons.” The other pivotal turn in Ginsburg’s path came during college. She earned a scholarship to Cornell, where she met a jovial sophomore who became the love of her life. “He was the first boy I ever knew who cared that I had a brain.” Theirs was not a typical 1950s marriage, but an equal partnership. “Her husband, Marty, was a fabulous cook, and she was a terrible cook. And Marty did all the cooking.” “In the historic Harvard Yard, you will see your classmates, men from every section of the country.” A year after Marty enrolled at Harvard Law School, Ruth followed, one of only nine women in a class of more than 550, with a new baby girl in tow. “During their time in law school, Marty became very sick. He had cancer. And she basically took all the notes for him and made it possible for him to graduate on time, while in fact, raising their baby and being a law student herself. Marty recovered and their relationship was very central to her work and her understanding of how it was possible to organize society.” This understanding turned into a mission after law school, when Ginsburg took on a legal study in Sweden where feminism was on the rise. “Sweden, where everything and everyone works.” Swedish women weren’t choosing between careers and family, and they inspired the young lawyer. When Ginsburg returned to the U.S., she launched what would become her radical project. As a law professor and leader of the A.C.L.U. Women’s Rights Project, she took on groundbreaking cases to build constitutional protections against gender discrimination. There was a lot of speculation about why a lawyer hailed as a Thurgood Marshall of women’s rights was representing so many men. “People looking back on that had thought, well, she was kind of trying to sweet talk the court. She was trying to give the court cases and plaintiffs that wouldn’t get those nine old guys very upset and kind of, you know, sneak in a doctrine of sex discrimination. And actually, that’s not accurate. She happened to have male clients because they were making claims that were traditionally, were women’s claims. And she wanted to just shake up the preconceived notions when it came to raising families and providing for them and working in the economy. Everybody should be on equal footing.” The legal crusade quickly unleashed profound changes in the law and daily life, but Ginsburg’s own rise to the federal bench took decades, and a lot of lobbying by her husband, a prominent tax attorney, with key old boys club connections. After getting passed over three times, President Carter nominated Ginsburg to be a federal judge in 1980. “The framers had in mind as the way to protect individual rights and liberty.” People were surprised that the A.C.L.U. activist turned out to be a very moderate judge, a centrist who often sided with conservatives, praised judicial restraint, and slammed Roe v. Wade for going too far, too fast. “I am proud to nominate for associate justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Some feminist leaders were concerned when President Clinton tapped Ginsburg for the High Court. “She will be able to be a force for consensus building on the Supreme Court.” But Justice Ginsburg quickly pleased supporters and skeptics alike with her opinions in landmark cases, like the Virginia Military Academy. “May it please the court. V.M.I., the Virginia Military Institute, was established by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1839.” “V.M.I. was age-old military academy run by the state of Virginia, was men only.” “Stand! Attention!” “It emphasizes competition. It emphasizes standing up to stress. It emphasizes the development of strong character in the face of adversity.” “The question was, did it violate the Constitution to bar women from this school that was entre into the political establishment of the state of Virginia.” Justice Ginsburg believed that omitting women was a constitutional violation. And she ultimately convinced all but one justice, Scalia, to take her position. “The opinion of the court in two cases, the United States against Virginia, will be announced by Justice Ginsburg.” “State actors may not close entrance gates based on fixed notions concerning the roles and abilities of males and females.” “Women will now be walking on the campus of the Virginia Military Institute.” “I think she would say it was the case she was happiest about in her tenure on the court.” “V.M.I. superintendent promises that female cadets will be treated the same as male cadets.” “She used an analysis that increased the level of scrutiny that courts in the future have to give to claims of sex discrimination. I think she found that an extremely satisfying outcome.” Ginsburg’s opinions helped solidify the constitutional protections she’d fought so hard to establish decades earlier. And her grit helped keep her on the bench through colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and the death of her beloved partner. “Justice Ginsburg, even though her husband died yesterday after a battle with cancer, was on the bench.” Ginsburg battled on through it all, unrelentingly tough, but still a consensus builder. She famously forged friendships with right-leaning justices, including Justice Scalia. “You know, what’s not to like? Except her views of the law, of course.” [laughter] Their shared love for opera actually inspired a composer to write a new one, about them. Singing: “We are different, we are one.” “Do you like how you were portrayed in the opera?” “Oh, yes. Especially in the scene where I rescue Justice Scalia, who is locked in a dark room for excessive dissenting.” [laughter] But in her later years, as the court moved to the right, Ginsburg grew bolder in her dissents. “She was not in a position to control the outcome of events. But she was in a position to stake her claim for what the outcome should have been. And she was very strategic and very powerful in using that opportunity.” The opportunity that made her into a rock star came in 2013, when the court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act. “Ginsburg wrote a lengthy, scathing dissent.” “She was pretty candid in her displeasure with the court’s decision.” “Hubris, pride, is a fit word for today’s demolition of the Voting Rights Act.” Ginsburg’s fiery dissent inspired law students to lay her words to a beat and turn the 80-year-old justice into the Notorious R.B.G. Singing: “Now I’m in the limelight, because I decide right, court has moved right, but my dissents get cites.” Suddenly, Ginsburg went viral. Children’s books to bumper stickers. Halloween costumes to a Hollywood biopic. “What did you say your name was?” “Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” Even her fitness trainer was a sensation. “Justice is blind, but you know man meat when you see it.” When asked about retirement plans, Ginsburg balked. “There was a senator who announced with great glee that I was going to be dead within six months. That senator, whose name I’ve forgotten, is now himself dead.” [laughter] Ginsburg’s stardom only grew after she criticized then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential race. “Ginsburg said, ‘I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president.’” Ginsburg apologized for her remarks, but instead of retreating, she was emboldened. “As a great man once said, that the true symbol of the United States is not the bald eagle, it is the pendulum. And when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, it will go back.” Notorious R.G.B. became a badge of the Trump resistance, and keeping her on the bench became part of the cause. “Health scare for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” “News tonight about the health scare for Supreme Court Justice —” “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she was hospitalized.” “And those ribs you busted?” “Almost repaired.” After all the spills, surgeries and bouts with cancer, what was it that kept her going? Ginsburg said it was her job on the bench, which she still found exhilarating. But perhaps most of all, it was her radical project, which Ginsburg said was still far from complete. “People ask me, ‘When will you be satisfied with the number of women on the court?’ When they are nine.”

Video player loading
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court’s feminist icon, not only changed the law, she also transformed the roles of men and women in society, according to Linda Greenhouse, contributing writer and former Supreme Court Correspondent for The Times.CreditCredit…Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, who in her ninth decade became a much younger generation’s unlikely cultural icon, died on Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87.

The cause was complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, the Supreme Court said.

When Justice Sandra Day O’Connor retired in January 2006, Justice Ginsburg was for a time the only woman on the Supreme Court — hardly a testament to the revolution in the legal status of women that she had helped bring about in her career as a litigator and strategist.

Her years as the solitary female justice were “the worst times,” she recalled in a 2014 interview. “The image to the public entering the courtroom was eight men, of a certain size, and then this little woman sitting to the side. That was not a good image for the public to see.” Eventually she was joined by two other women, both named by President Barack Obama: Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010.

After the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens in 2010, whom Justice Kagan succeeded, Justice Ginsburg became the senior member and de facto leader of a four-justice liberal bloc, consisting of the three female justices and Justice Stephen G. Breyer.

Justice Ginsburg’s pointed and powerful dissenting opinions, usually speaking for all four, attracted growing attention as the court turned further to the right. A law student, Shana Knizhnik, anointed her the Notorious R.B.G., a play on the name of the Notorious B.I.G., a famous rapper who was Brooklyn-born, like the justice. Soon the name, and Justice Ginsburg’s image — her expression serene yet severe, a frilly lace collar adorning her black judicial robe, her eyes framed by oversize glasses and a gold crown perched at a rakish angle.

Young women had the image tattooed on their arms; daughters were dressed in R.B.G. costumes for Halloween. “You Can’t Spell Truth Without Ruth” appeared on bumper stickers and T-shirts. A biography, “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” by Irin Carmon and Ms. Knizhnik, reached the best-seller list the day after its publication in 2015, and the next year, Simon & Schuster brought out a Ginsburg biography for children with the title “I Dissent.” A documentary film of her life was a surprise box office hit in the summer of 2018, and a Hollywood biopic centered on her first sex discrimination court case opened on Christmas Day that year.

Scholars of the culture searched for an explanation for the phenomenon. Dahlia Lithwick, writing in The Atlantic in early 2019, offered this observation: “Today, more than ever, women starved for models of female influence, authenticity, dignity and voice hold up an octogenarian justice as the embodiment of hope for an empowered future.”

About brandsauthority

Check Also

Worried About Covid-19 in the Winter? Alaska Provides a Cautionary Tale

PALMER, Alaska — Over the summer months, Alaska’s restaurants filled up, the state invited tourists …

%d bloggers like this: