Washington, Sep 25 (efe-epa).- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female justice to serve on the United States Supreme Court and a trailblazer in the struggle for gender equality, made history once again here Friday as the first woman to lie in state at the US Capitol.
The flag-draped casket carrying Ginsburg’s body arrived Friday morning at the Capitol after she had lain in repose for two days at the Supreme Court building, where hundreds of people had gathered to pay their respects.
Ginsburg, a progressive justice who died on Sept. 18 of pancreatic cancer at the age of 87, is the first woman and the first Jewish person to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
She is only the second Supreme Court justice to receive that honor after William Howard Taft, who also was a US president.
That distinction, which acknowledges the exceptional historical impact of select US officials, had only been bestowed 33 times prior to Friday.
One other woman – African-American civil rights icon Rosa Parks – was recognized after her death in 2005 in similar fashion, although because she was not a government official she was said to have lain in “honor” in the Rotunda.
Roughly 100 people attended Friday’s ceremony, including Democratic Party presidential nominee Joe Biden, his vice presidential running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, and their respective spouses.
“She first of all made America see what leadership looks like, and in the law, in terms of public service, and she broke so many barriers,” Harris told reporters. “And I know that she did it intentionally, knowing that people like me could follow.”
Biden visited the Capitol Rotunda along with his wife Jill to pay his respects to Ginsburg. A day before, President Donald Trump was booed when he and first lady Melania Trump went to the Supreme Court building to honor the late justice.
Friday’s ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, who eulogized Ginsburg – nominated to the high court in 1993 by Democrat Bill Clinton – as “our prophet, our North Star and our strength for so very long.”
For her part, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, inaugurated the memorial at the Capitol and expressed her “profound sorrow” over the justice’s death.
In one unique tribute to Ginsburg on Friday, her personal trainer, Bryant Johnson, did three push-ups in front of her casket.
Very few members of the Republican Party were on hand for the ceremony, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy among those not in attendance.
Trump has said he will announce his nominee to replace Ginsburg on Saturday.
If confirmed by the Senate, that pick would create a nominal 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court.
However, Chief Justice John Roberts, nominated by Republican George W. Bush, has sided with the court’s liberal justices in several key cases in recent years. EFE-EPA