NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a groundbreaker in life and also in death as she became the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol on Friday.
The barrier-breaking judge also became the first Jewish person in history to do so and it was at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“It is with profound sorrow and deep sympathy to the Ginsburg family that I have the high honor to welcome Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in state in the Capitol of the United States,” Pelosi told the family Friday morning.
The Supreme Court Justice died last week at the age of 87 due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She served on the court for more than 27 years and played a key role in many groundbreaking decisions.
Well into her 80s, Ginsburg continued to make an impact, not just on the law, but on those who followed her into the legal profession.
Priscila Abraham graduated from Rutgers Law in the spring and told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell, in this week’s In Depth Podcast, that Ginsburg had a profound impact on her life.
“She’s been an inspiration that you can be any type of lawyer that you want to be, regardless of your gender,” Abraham said.
She says it was not just the ferocity of Ginsburg’s legal arguments that made her a role model, it was the way she conducted herself.
David Schizer, a Dean Emeritus and a law professor at Columbia Law School, agrees – and recalled what it was like to serve as a clerk for the justice.
“She knew how to make a forceful argument in the most courteous and thoughtful way, and I think all of us, on both side of the pollical spectrum, can benefit from following that example,” Schizer said.
Throughout her years on the court, Ginsburg became an icon for many and was even dubbed the “Notorious RBG.”
The original naming came from social media websites, but eventually took root when it was used as the title of Ginsburg biography, written by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik.
Schizer says he doesn’t know how the name eventually stuck, but he did note that Ginsburg was surprised to become an unlikely pop culture icon.
“I can tell you that it was the most improbable thing I've ever seen and I say this because when Justice Ginsburg would go to a movie, it was rare, but when she would go to a movie, she often would bring a flashlight with her, along with some paperwork, and that's the way she would spend the time. Popular culture was not her thing, she loves opera and, I think, to her, popular culture kind of ended with Mozart and Verdi,” Schizer said. “So the idea that she then became a pop culture icon was a truly remarkable turn of events and I think she saw the irony in that, but I think she also enjoyed it.”
He adds: “I'm sure it's something she never expected but, I think it is something she appreciated.”
Justice Ginsburg will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next week.