Thursday, 22 Oct 2020 - 4 of Heshvan, 5781

Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be first woman, Jewish person to lie in state at US Capitol

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, will now also become the first woman and the first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol building, following her death on Sept. 18 at the age of 87 at her home in Washington, D.C.

Ginsburg, a heralded liberal judicial, feminist and Jewish icon who was the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, died from “complications of metastatic pancreas cancer,” according to a statement from the Supreme Court shortly after her death.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Monday that Ginsburg will lie in state in National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol on Friday.

A formal ceremony will be held on Friday morning. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the ceremony will be open to invited guests only, according to Pelosi.

The honor will come after Ginsburg will lie “in repose” at the Supreme Court building on Wednesday and Thursday. Both the Supreme Court and the Capitol building are closed to the public, also due to the pandemic.

Ginsburg will be just the second Supreme Court justice and the 35th person overall to lie in state at the Capitol, which is an honor reserved for those who have made a significant impact on American life. She will do so despite Jewish law, which requires a body to be buried within 24 hours of the person’s death, with some exceptions such as the Sabbath and allowing relatives to be present for the burial.

No information on the shivah, where immediate family members of the deceased sit in mourning for seven days (with exceptions that end it early such as Yom Kippur, which begins on Sunday night, Sept. 27), has been released.

No information on Ginsburg’s funeral has yet been released.

She will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which is reserved for military veterans and their spouses and children, but also for statespersons such as Supreme Court justices. She is expected to be buried next to her late husband, Martin, a military veteran and tax lawyer who died in 2010.

Ginsburg, a heralded liberal judicial, feminist and Jewish icon who was the second woman to serve on the nation’s highest court, died from “complications of metastatic pancreas cancer,” according to a statement from the Supreme Court shortly after her death.

Her passing came on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year 5781, and just six weeks before the Nov. 3 election.

Joan Ruth Bader was born on March 15, 1933, to Nathan and Celia Bader in Brooklyn, N.Y. Her older sister, Marylin, died of meningitis at age 6, when Ruth was a baby. Ruth’s mother died shortly before Ginsburg graduated from high school, though having been a significant factor in her education.

She earned her bachelor’s degree at Cornell University on June 23, 1954; a month later, she married Martin D. Ginsburg. One year later, they had a daughter, Jane, before Ruth started law school at Harvard University.

Ginsburg was a standout and one of the few women at Harvard Law School. She later transferred to Columbia Law School, where she jointly graduated first in her class in 1959. However, she had difficulty getting hired directly into a law firm and turned to academia, teaching at Rutgers Law School and Columbia Law School.

The couple had a son, James, in 1965.

In 1970, Ginsburg co-founded the Women’s Rights Law Reporter, the first law journal in the United States to focus exclusively on women’s rights. Two years later,  she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and in 1973, she became general counsel of the project.

After working with the American Civil Liberties Union as a volunteer attorney and as a member of its board of directors and a general counsel in the 1970s, in 1980, Ginsburg was nominated by President Jimmy Carter and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is regarded as the second-most powerful court in the United States behind the Supreme Court.

In 1993, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed to the Supreme Court, where she served until her death.

Ginsburg spent much of her career fighting for gender equality and women’s rights, winning many arguments before the Supreme Court. During her 40-plus years as a judge and a justice, she was served by 159 law clerks.

A 2018 documentary titled “RBG” became a hit with audiences, as did a feature film that followed, “On the Basis of Sex.”

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement on Sunday: , “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was in her own words ‘a judge, born, raised and proud of being a Jew.’ ”

“Justice Ginsburg, the first Jewish woman to serve on the high court, sought to apply the values of her faith in seeking equal justice under law and had a lifelong love for Israel,” continued the Jewish umbrella organization. “She is recognized as among the great jurists in modern history. She never ceased to advocate for gender equality while leading the way for women in the legal profession.”


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