WASHINGTON – After a lifetime of achievements, even in death Ruth Bader Ginsburg breaking down yet another barrier – simultaneously becoming the first woman and the first Jewish American to lie in state at the US Capitol.
It was earlier this week that her body lay in repose on the top of the front steps of the Supreme Court building for the public to pay their respects.
Friday’s gathering inside the Capitol for the final tribute for the 87-year-old who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer one week ago was a formal ceremony and opened to invited guests only.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-Calif.) presided over a brief ceremony. “It is with profound sorry and deep sympathy to the Ginsburg family that I have the high honor to welcome Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in state in the Capitol of the United States.”
Mezzo soprano opera singer and one of Ginsburg’s favorites, Denyce Graves performed a tribute to the late justice.
Her Rabbi, Lauren Holtzblatt, of Adas Israel Congregation, who’s own husband once clerked for Ginsburg, gave the single eulogy. She spoke of a slow, but persistent, progress. “Justice did not arrive like a lightning bolt, but rather through dogged persistence all the days of her life. Real change, enduring change, she said, happens one step at a time.”
Holtzblatt said: “Today we stand in sorrow and tomorrow, we, the people, must carry on Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.”
Many came to pay their respects. Lawmakers bowed their heads in reverence. Even her personal trainer was there. He dropped and did pushups near the casket in the Justice’s honor.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, attended the ceremony, as did Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, and her husband, Douglas Emhoff.
As Biden left Statuary Hall, a reporter asked: “Mr. Vice President, what was it like to be in the capitol with Justice Ginsburg one last time?”
Biden replied: “It was like when I met her when I did her hearing. I was the chairman of the committee when she was confirmed. Wonderful memories.”
After the ceremony was over, Ginsburg’s body was gently removed and taken down the steps of the Capitol, descending into history.
It would be the last time we saw Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
She will be buried in a family ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery next week and be laid to rest next to her husband Martin, a lawyer and Army veteran who died in 2010. He is buried at Arlington.
And, in just 24 hours, the President will be announcing his selection to replace Ginsburg’s seat in the Supreme Court. The choice is expected to be Amy Coney Barrett.