The late US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was honoured in a brief ceremony in the US Capitol as she lies in state there, the first woman and first Jewish person to receive that honour.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi briefly spoke before opera singer Denyce Graves, a favourite of Ginsburg, sang in tribute to the late justice.
“Pursuing justice took resilience, persistence, a commitment to never stop,” said Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, who eulogised Ginsburg Friday and at the Supreme Court memorial service on Wednesday.
“All the days of her life, ‘Real change,’ she said, ‘enduring change happens one step at a time.’ She faced many obstacles in her life, even from a young age.
“Today we stand in sorrow and tomorrow we the people must carry on Justice Ginsburg’s legacy. Even as our hearts are breaking, we must rise with her strength and move forward.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, arrived, walked quietly through the Capitol hallway, and running mate vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris also attended.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed Ginsburg’s coffin as the Capitol under turmoil as President Donald Trump prepares to announce a conservative nominee to replace the liberal icon weeks before the election.
Female members of Congress, Democrats as well as Republicans, planned to gather on the Capitol steps to pay their respects after a formal memorial ceremony in National Statuary Hall, where Ginsburg’s coffin was brought on Friday morning.
“We have a lot of cause for … observance of a historic time, for a historic woman who did more for the equality of women than anybody in our history,” Pelosi told reporters on Thursday.
Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer stood at the entrance to the Capitol as Ginsburg’s coffin was brought to the Capitol after a public visitation across the street at the Supreme Court, the hearse flanked by four police motorcycles.
“Her passing is like a death in so many families in our country because so many people pinned their hopes, heeded her guidance, admired her stamina, her love of the arts, bringing civility to her relationships in the court and in the country,” Pelosi said.
Members of the House and the Senate who were not invited to the ceremony because of space limitations imposed by the coronavirus pandemic would be able to pay their respects before a motorcade carrying Ginsburg’s coffin departs the Capitol early on Friday afternoon.
The honour of lying in state has been accorded fewer than three dozen times, mostly to presidents, vice presidents, and members of Congress. Rep John Lewis, the civil rights icon, was the most recent person to lie in state following his death in July.
Henry Clay, the Kentucky lawmaker who served as Speaker of the House and also was a senator, was the first in 1852. Rosa Parks – a private citizen, not a government official – is the only woman who has lain in honour at the Capitol.
Ginsburg has lain in repose for two days at the Supreme Court, where thousands of people paid their respects, including President Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Thursday. Spectators booed and chanted “vote him out” as the president, who wore a mask, stood silently near Ginsburg’s coffin at the top of the court’s front steps.
Trump plans to announce his nomination on Saturday of a woman to take Ginsburg’s place on the high court, where she served for 27 years and was the leader of the liberal justices.
Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, will be buried next week in Arlington National Cemetery beside her husband, Martin, who died in 2010.