Lib­eral icon hon­ored, mourned

Gins­burg has solemn farewell as race in­ten­si­fies to fill seat

Santa Fe New Mexican - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Baker

They came from far and near on a bright, warm, early au­tumn day, the pow­er­ful and the pow­er­less, filled with ap­pre­ci­a­tion and anx­i­ety, to pay trib­ute to the daugh­ter of a Brook­lyn book­keeper who changed the law of the land so that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions would not have to face the ob­sta­cles that she over­came.

Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg, the young scholar spurned by ev­ery law firm in New York be­cause of her gen­der be­fore go­ing on to be­come a cham­pion of women’s rights and a lib­eral icon, was hon­ored on Wed­nes­day by a for­mer pres­i­dent, by her col­leagues on the Supreme Court and by long lines of ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans who felt the in­flu­ence of her long and sto­ried ca­reer.

“Jus­tice Gins­burg’s life was one of the many

ver­sions of the Amer­i­can dream,” Chief Jus­tice John Roberts. said dur­ing a cer­e­mony in­side the court where she served for 27 years be­fore her death Fri­day. “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 be­tween a book­keeper in Brook­lyn and a Supreme Court jus­tice?’ Her an­swer: One gen­er­a­tion.”

For a jus­tice who came to en­joy her im­prob­a­ble late-in-life celebrity, it was a mod­est, unas­sum­ing farewell, but one that moved many in a coun­try po­lar­ized by pol­i­tics and suf­fer­ing from a hor­ri­ble pan­demic. Among those who waited hours to pass be­low her flag-draped cof­fin out­side the court build­ing were many women, of­ten with daugh­ters or moth­ers, who saw in Gins­burg a source of per­sonal lib­er­a­tion.

But amid the mourn­ing, there was no cease-fire in the par­ti­san war that has erupted over her seat. While she told her grand­daugh­ter that her dy­ing wish was not to be re­placed un­til the next pres­i­dent was cho­sen, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his Repub­li­can al­lies pressed ahead to in­stall a new jus­tice by Elec­tion Day.

Trump, who said he planned to pay his re­spects to Gins­burg on Thurs­day, made clear that he had a per­sonal stake in rush­ing the con­fir­ma­tion process. He said it was be­cause he ex­pected the out­come of the elec­tion to be de­cided by the Supreme Court and he wanted to en­sure that an­other jus­tice would be there to sup­port him in any le­gal dis­putes about the vote count.

“I think this will end up in the Supreme Court,” Trump told re­porters at the White House. “And I think it’s very im­por­tant that we have nine jus­tices.”

Five of the eight cur­rent mem­bers of the court were ap­pointed by Repub­li­can pres­i­dents, but Trump ap­peared con­cerned that one of them, Roberts, might side with the three re­main­ing lib­er­als, as he has on oc­ca­sion, leav­ing a 4-4 dead­lock.

The pres­i­dent plans to an­nounce his nom­i­na­tion at 3 p.m. MDT Satur­day, and ad­vis­ers ex­pect him to se­lect Judge Amy Coney Bar­rett of the 7th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals, a fa­vorite of anti-abor­tion con­ser­va­tives. The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee may hold con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings as soon as Oct. 12, with a fi­nal con­fir­ma­tion vote the last week of Oc­to­ber.

Gins­burg, who died at 87 on Fri­day, made her fi­nal re­turn to the Supreme Court on Wed­nes­day morn­ing as her cof­fin was borne into the ma­jes­tic build­ing by po­lice of­fi­cers past dozens of for­mer clerks lin­ing the stairs. She was taken into the Great Hall, where her fam­ily, for­mer clerks and fel­low jus­tices waited, all wear­ing black face masks and po­si­tioned at a dis­tance from one an­other in keep­ing with pan­demic guide­lines.

Roberts, the only other speaker, re­called that Gins­burg as­pired to be an opera singer but pur­sued the law only to find her­self the sub­ject of dis­crim­i­na­tion be­cause of her sex at law school and in the work­ing world.

“She was not an opera star, but she found her stage right be­hind me in our court­room,” the chief jus­tice 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.”


The flag-draped cas­ket of Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg ar­rives Wed­nes­day at the Supreme Court in Wash­ing­ton. Gins­burg died Fri­day of can­cer. Gins­burg, a cham­pion of women’s rights and a lib­eral icon, was 87.


Peo­ple pay re­spects as Gins­burg lies in re­pose un­der the por­tico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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