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Mourners Gather At U.S. Supreme Court To Pay Respects To Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Sep 23, 2020
Originally published on September 23, 2020 11:01 pm
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Mourners lined up outside the Supreme Court today to honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Beyond her place in history as a legal icon, Ginsburg was also a cultural icon, the subject of countless T-shirts and tote bags and memes. As NPR's Danielle Kurtzleben reports, many of those who showed up today were honoring a woman they didn't just respect but revered.

DANIELLE KURTZLEBEN, BYLINE: Ginsburg occupied a rarefied place in American politics, serving for 27 years on the highest court in the land. So it's striking how intimately people are feeling her death, like Shasta Collins, a paralegal from Colorado.

SHASTA COLLINS: It felt very personal to me, her passing. I've never even been to D.C. before, and so I wanted to be here because it's affecting my life, her death.

KURTZLEBEN: Collins flew to Washington so she could get in line to pay her respects this morning.

COLLINS: I was a homeless veteran for years. And although I'm now late to school, I do hope to go to law school one day. So I'm now pursuing my bachelor's. I have struggled in my own life, and her achievements let me know that I actually might be able to achieve something in life.

KURTZLEBEN: Grief was one of the chief emotions at the court today but so was gratitude. Chivonn Anderson, who drove down from Philadelphia early this morning, stood in line as she held a large posterboard sign.

CHIVONN ANDERSON: It says, thank you, RBG, for everything from a queer American. I wanted to show my respects for her because she's done so much for people like me, anybody on the fringes of society. She stood up and was a voice for us. And it's the least I could do.

KURTZLEBEN: Ginsburg ruled in favor of LGBTQ rights on multiple cases and is best-known for more broadly advancing women's rights. Lara Gambini drove 14 hours with a friend from Illinois to D.C. to celebrate those gains.

LARA GAMBINI: I'm here for my mom and her generation. I mean, they had to go through so much. And Ruth helped pave the way for them to have homes and credit and their own independent lives.

KURTZLEBEN: However, like many at the court today, Gambini is looking ahead, in part to a fight over filling Ginsburg's seat. Gambini said she's nervous about whom President Trump might pick as she sees the fight for gender equality is far from over.

GAMBINI: There are still independent decisions we're not allowed to make with our doctors, within our families. And we have a long way to go.

KURTZLEBEN: Young women in the legal field in particular say they feel the weight of Ginsburg's death as they figure out how to carry on her legacy. Dory Arthur drove up from Richmond to pay her respects.

DORY ARTHUR: Ginsburg dedicated her life to women, making the country better for everyone. And I think coming here was sort of like receiving the buck from RBG.

KURTZLEBEN: Arthur is in her final year of law school. Ginsburg, she said, is a sustaining force for her.

ARTHUR: Law school can be really - it can be really hard to continue to have faith in the world when you learn how it works (laughter). But I think it's all up to us to continue her work.

KURTZLEBEN: Ginsburg will lie in repose again Thursday at the Supreme Court and then will lie in state at the Capitol on Friday.

Danielle Kurtzleben, NPR News at the Supreme Court. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.