Jus­tices, vis­i­tors pay trib­ute to Gins­burg in cer­e­mony at Supreme Court.

San Francisco Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Baker Peter Baker is a New York Times writer.

WASH­ING­TON — Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg was hon­ored Wed­nes­day as a pi­o­neer of women’s rights who brought the na­tion closer to its vi­sion of equal jus­tice through a sto­ried ca­reer as a lawyer and on the bench.

In a short, sim­ple and mod­est cer­e­mony in keep­ing with her own rep­u­ta­tion for hu­mil­ity, Gins­burg’s fam­ily and fel­low mem­bers of the Supreme Court paid their re­spects in the Great Hall of the build­ing where she served for 27 years. Her cof­fin was then brought out­side, where she will lie in re­pose as Amer­i­cans bid farewell over the next two days.

“Jus­tice Gins­burg’s life was one of the many ver­sions of the Amer­i­can dream,” Chief Jus­tice John Roberts said dur­ing the cer­e­mony in­side the build­ing. “Her fa­ther was an im­mi­grant from Odessa. Her mother was born four months af­ter her fam­ily ar­rived from Poland. Her mother later worked as a book­keeper in Brook­lyn. Ruth used to ask what is the dif­fer­ence in a book­keeper in Brook­lyn and a Supreme Court jus­tice. Her an­swer: one gen­er­a­tion.”

The chief jus­tice, who was the only one to speak other than Rabbi Lau­ren Holtzblatt, re­called that Gins­burg wanted to be an opera singer but pur­sued law only to find her­self the sub­ject of dis­crim­i­na­tion be­cause of her sex at law school and in the work­force. She went on to be­come per­haps the coun­try’s lead­ing ad­vo­cate fight­ing that dis­crim­i­na­tion.

“She was not an opera star, but she found her stage right be­hind me in our court­room,” Roberts said. “There, she won fa­mous vic­to­ries that helped move our na­tion closer to equal jus­tice un­der law, to the ex­tent that women are now a ma­jor­ity in law schools, not sim­ply a hand­ful. Later, she be­came a star on the bench.”

He said her 483 opin­ions — ma­jor­ity, con­cur­ring and dis­sent­ing — would “steer the court for decades” to come.

“They are writ­ten with the un­af­fected grace of pre­ci­sion,” he said. “Her voice in court and in our con­fer­ence room was soft, but when she spoke, peo­ple lis­tened.”

The chief jus­tice was joined by the other seven cur­rent mem­bers of the court, seated in or­der of se­nior­ity, as well as An­thony Kennedy, the re­tired jus­tice, and sev­eral of their spouses, all wear­ing face masks and sit­ting apart in keep­ing with guide­lines be­cause of the pan­demic.

The cer­e­mony lasted 18 min­utes from the time the cof­fin was brought into the hall by Supreme Court po­lice of­fi­cers serv­ing as pall­bear­ers. Gins­burg’s for­mer clerks lined the steps of the court build­ing be­fore the cer­e­mony and as the cof­fin was placed on the por­tico while vis­i­tors pay­ing their re­spects filed past at the bot­tom of the stairs.

An­drew Ca­ballero-reynolds / AFP via Getty Im­ages

Po­lice of­fi­cers carry the cas­ket of Ruth Bader Gins­burg to the front of the Supreme Court for two days of pub­lic view­ing.

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