|Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lay in state Friday at the U.S. Capitol as the first woman ever so honored, making history again as she had throughout her extraordinary life while an intensifying election-year battle swirled over her replacement.
The flag-draped casket of Ginsburg, who died last week at 87, drew members of Congress, top military officials, friends and family, some with children in tow, to the Capitol’s grand Statuary Hall, paying respect to the cultural icon who changed American law and perceptions of women’s power.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, joined other invited guests. His vice presidential running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris said that “RBG,” as she is known by many, cleared a path for women like her in civic life.
“She, first of all, made America see what leadership looks like -- in the law, in terms of public service -- and she broke so many barriers,” Harris told reporters at the Capitol. “And I know that she did it intentionally knowing that people like me could follow.”
Biden, who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee when Ginsburg was confirmed 27 years ago this month, said he was brought back to when he met her back then. “Wonderful memories,” he said.
Mourners gathered to honor Ginsburg under coronavirus distancing restrictions with the nation in political turmoil.
President Donald Trump is to announce a conservative nominee to replace her on Saturday, just weeks before the election. White House officials have indicated to congressional Republicans and outside allies that the nominee will be Indiana’s Amy Coney Barrett but are maintaining a semblance of suspense to let Trump announce her.
His third justice, if confirmed, would be sure to move the court rightward on health care, abortion and other pivotal issues. A Senate confirmation vote would be expected in late October.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was with “profound sorrow” that she welcomed Ginsburg and opened the private service.
She and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer stood under gray skies as Ginsburg’s casket made the short procession from the court’s steps where it had been on public view for several days to the East Front of the Capitol.