WASHINGTON, D.C. — The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first woman and first Jewish person in American history to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday, capping days of commemoration of her extraordinary life.

What You Need To Know

  • Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday will become the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol

  • Ginsburg is also the first Jewish-American to lie in state and just the second Supreme Court justice

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden, his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, were in attendance to pay their respects

  • Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, who spoke at the private ceremony at the Supreme Court Wednesday, said of Ginsburg that, "all the days of her life she pursued justice. Even in illness"

Mourners have continued to pay tribute to Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87, throughout the week, as her casket was on public view at the court's iconic steps.

Her casket made the short procession across the street Friday morning for the private Capitol ceremony with elected officials, family and other invited guests amid coronavirus social distancing restrictions.


Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, attended the ceremony, as did his running mate, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi welcomed Ginsburg’s casket as the Capitol under turmoil as President Donald Trump’s prepares to announce a conservative nominee to replace the liberal icon weeks before the election.

The politics of the moment, in a tense election year, rippled throughout the celebrations this week of Ginsburg’s life and career, but the ceremony was a celebration and honoring of her life and work, with musical selections from one of Ginsburg’s favorite opera singers, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves.

Graves' powerful voice echoed through the domed chamber, opening the ceremony with the singing the spiritual "Deep River" and bidding a fond farewell to the beloved Justice with the lyrics of "American Anthem:" 

"Let them say of me I was one who believed

In sharing the blessings I received.

Let me know in my heart, when my days are through

America, America, I gave my best to you"

Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt, who spoke at the private ceremony at the Supreme Court Wednesday, said of Ginsburg that, "all the days of her life she pursued justice. Even in illness.”

"She fought five bouts with cancer and she supported her beloved Marty through his battle with cancer as well, Holtzblatt said. "Each time, she pressed forward. She returned to work, to the bench, to the court, with focus. Each and every time."

"Justice Ginsburg also loved the Court to which she so devoted her life. A court for all of us," she added.

Ginsburg's trainer, Bryant Johnson, paid tribute to the late Justice by dropping and doing three push-ups in front of her flag-draped casket.

Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz reflected on RBG's legacy in an interview with Spectrum News.

"As a young Jewish woman, elected when I was 26 years old to our state legislature. I stood on her shoulders and had an opportunity to even contemplate that step because of all the leadership, strength, brilliance," she said."

Female members of Congress lined the steps of the U.S. Capitol as the casket bearing the body of Justice Ginsburg was carried out.


The honor 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 honor at the Capitol.

Ginsburg has lain in repose for two days at the Supreme Court, where thousands of people paid their respects, including President Donald 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 casket at the top of the court's front steps.

Trump plans to announce his nomination 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.