This week, United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away at the age of 87. Ginsburg served on the court for 27 years and was the second woman appointed after Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Ginsburg’s legacy is that of an iconic feminist, having won five cases in front of the United States Supreme Court involving equal rights for women.
Organizing a funeral service for a government official requires extensive planning, especially today in the age of COVID-19. The funeral services for Justice Ginsburg are slated to be quite elaborate and historic as she will be the first woman in history to “lie in state.” Ginsburg will become only the second Supreme Court Justice to be honored in this way, second only to Chief Justice and former President William Howard Taft. Government officials and military officers are typically laid in state, while private citizens are laid in honor. Civil rights activists Rosa Parks was the first woman to be “lain in honor” after her death in 2005. If Congress and the family approves, any person with distinguished service may lay in state. Representative John Lewis (D-GA) was the most recent person laid in state after his death in July.
RBG’s Historic Funeral Service
On Wednesday, September 23, the body of Justice Ginsburg arrived at the Supreme Court Building, where Supreme Court Police Officers and former law clerks served as her honorary pallbearers. Her casket was placed on the Lincoln Catafalque, which was constructed in 1865 to hold the casket of President Abraham Lincoln. In a tradition that began in 1873, Justice Ginsburg’s bench chair was draped in black bunting. After a private ceremony was held at the court for Ginsburg’s family and friends, she was taken to lie in repose on the top steps of the Supreme Court, where she will remain for the rest of the day Wednesday and Thursday. Due to the pandemic, viewing will be limited in size, and the casket will be placed outdoors so that public visitors may remain six feet apart.
On Friday, September 25, Justice Ginsburg will become the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Building. She will then be buried in Arlington National Cemetery next to her husband, Martin Ginsburg, who died in 2010. Justice Ginsburg, who was Jewish, died on Rosh Hashanah, which marks the start of the Jewish New Year. According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah is a person of great righteousness.
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