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

September 22, 2020 by JNS
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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.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Credit: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Credit: European University Institute/Flickr.

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 honour 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.

“There have been eight Jewish Supreme Court justices; the five who predeceased Ginsburg did not lie in repose. Not every justice is accorded the honour—most recently, Antonin Scalia, Ginsburg’s close friend and ideological opposite, lay in repose after his death in 2016. The Supreme Court did not supply a list of justices who have lain in repose,” reported JTA.

Ginsburg will be just the second Supreme Court justice and the 35th person overall to lie in state at the Capitol, which is an honour 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.

Although Ginsburg will be the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol, civil-rights hero Rosa Parks was the first woman to lay “in honour” at the Capitol in 2005. Along with Parks, three other people have lain in honour at the Capitol.


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