Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be first woman to lie in state at U.S. Capitol

Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be first woman to lie in state at U.S. Capitol

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Monday that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in state in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol. She will be the first woman to ever do so. She will also lie in repose at the Supreme Court, it was announced by the court.

Pelosi said the ceremony for Ginsburg will be held Friday, Sept. 25. It will be by invitation only, because of the coronavirus. Rosa Parks lay in honor at the U.S. Capitol, a distinction extended to private citizens, as opposed to government officials like Ginsburg. Ginsburg will also be the first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. For reference, thirty-three people have lain in state at the Captol, all men. It is an honor typically extended to presidents, congressmen or military leaders. The most recent to lie in state were Democrats – Rep. Elijah Cummings and John Lewis both civil rights leaders, in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is being honored for breaking barriers for women throughout her career. She will also lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday before going to the U.S. Capitol. The last justice to lie in repose at the Supreme Court was Justice Antonin Scalia. His death also occurred in a presidential election year, as we all remember now because of the furious battles going on over replacing Ginsburg on the court.

The casket will arrive in front of the Supreme Court just before 9:30 a.m. ET Wednesday and a private ceremony with family, close friends and the justices will take place in the Great Hall at the court. Following the ceremony, the casket will be moved under the portico at the top of the building’s front steps.

Former law clerks will serve as honorary pallbearers, lining the steps as the casket arrives.

Private interment will be held next week at Arlington National Cemetery.

Only four civilians have lain in honor at the Capitol. Besides Rosa Parks, evangelist Rev. Billy Graham and two U.S. Capitol police officers have also lain in honor.

The left, especially liberal women, turned Ruth Bader Ginsburg into a celebrity, especially in her later life. She embraced her celebrity status, too. So, it is no surprise that Nancy Pelosi is now honoring her with placing her casket in the U.S. Capitol.

When she was in her 80s, she became a liberal icon, especially among young feminists. She was the subject of a hit documentary, a biopic, books, an operetta, merchandise and regular Saturday Night Live sketches. Ginsburg was crowned with her Notorious RBG moniker — a play on rapper Biggie Smalls’ stage name of Notorious B.I.G. — in 2013 when New York University law student Shana Knizhnik created a Tumblr bearing the name to highlight Ginsburg’s dissent in the landmark Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder. “Throwing out pre-clearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” she wrote in her dissent. The name stuck and Ginsburg was such a fan that, in 2014, she said had “quite a large supply” of Notorious RBG t-shirts to give as gifts.

I do wonder if former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court, will be extended this special honor. Pelosi has been quick to honor her favorites but will O’Connor be given the same treatment, as she, too, was a barrier-breaker for women? I’m skeptical. O’Connor has not been turned into a celebrity, which I suspect is her preference. There are no rules or laws in place about this, it is at the discretion of the House and Senate.

It is notable that some people get special treatment during the coronavirus pandemic. Most families are unable to give their loved one’s a funeral or memorial service at this time because of lockdown requirements. People are dying in hospitals, unable to have a family member or friend hold their hand and comfort them during their last hours on earth. Contrast that reality with what we have seen play out, like the memorials and services held for George Floyd, for example, or Rep. John Lewis. Those large gatherings are praised, not shamed, during the pandemic. Special treatment is given to the large crowds stopping by the steps of the Supreme Court to pay their respects to Ginsburg. A makeshift memorial has been made there for her.

Public figures on the left have been particularly emotional over RBG’s passing. Mrs. George Stephanopolous, a.k.a. actress Ali Wentworth, told Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Ripa on Monday that she, George, and their two daughters cried for 45 minutes upon hearing of her death Friday night. That’s quite an emotional attachment to a Supreme Court justice. RBG was one of them.

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