• Thu. Mar 4th, 2021

Ruth Bader Ginsburg death: Mourners gather at US Supreme Court

Ginsburg's casket in the Supreme Court Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Chief Justice Roberts spoke during a private ceremony at the Supreme Court

Mourners have been honouring the judge and liberal icon Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lies in repose at the US Supreme Court in Washington.

Ginsburg, an advocate for gender equality and civil rights, died on Friday, aged 87, from cancer.

Chief Justice John Roberts delivered remarks on Wednesday as her casket rested just outside the courtroom where she served for nearly three decades.

President Donald Trump will pay his respects at the top court on Thursday.

Since her death, makeshift memorials have been set up outside the Supreme Court. Flowers, photographs, candles and signs have lined the steps.

The second woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice, Ginsburg will on Friday become the first woman to lie in state at the US Capitol. She will be buried next week at Arlington National Cemetery.

Speaking before Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket in the Supreme Court’s Great Hall earlier, Chief Justice Roberts said her life was “one of the many versions of the American dream”.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Justice Ginsburg was appointed in 1993

“Ruth wanted to be an opera virtuoso but became a rock star instead,” he said during the private ceremony, noting her battles against gender discrimination throughout her career.

The daughter of Jewish immigrants, Ginsburg struggled against sexism for decades. She graduated top of her class at Columbia Law School (where she was one of just nine women accepted) but received no job offers. She later remarked: “I struck out on three grounds: I was Jewish, a woman and a mother.”

The history-making jurist joined the top US court in 1993, where she continued to advocate for equality and was known for delivering scathing dissents.

Ginsburg was fond of joking that there would be enough women on the nine-seat Supreme Court “when there are nine”.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Crowds watched as Ginsburg’s casket arrived at the top US court
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Thousands of mourners are expected to pay respects this week

As family, friends and colleagues memorialised her inside the nation’s highest court, outside, crowds awaited their turn.

Later on Wednesday, due to Covid-19 concerns, her casket was moved to rest in front of the steps so that people could pay their respects outdoors.

Mr Trump has said he will nominate a new justice this week to take Ginsburg’s seat. Democrats have criticised the move, saying the process ought to wait until after the 3 November presidential election.

Ginsburg’s “most fervent” last wish, according to her granddaughter, was to not be replaced until after the election.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A girl wearing a version of Ginsburg’s iconic robe collars

The US top court is often the final word on highly contentious laws, disputes between state and federal governments, and final appeals to stay executions.

In recent years, the Supreme Court has ruled on key issues including marriage equality, abortion access and immigration.

With one vacancy due to Ginsburg’s passing, the bench’s ideological balance remains tilted to the right, favouring conservatives in a 5-3 split.