Hundreds Gather On Steps Of Supreme Court To Honor RBG's Life

by Julie Scagell
Supreme Court mourners Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Mourners gathered within hours of hearing about Ginsburg’s passing

As the heartbreaking news spread about the death of woman’s rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg, crowds began gathering outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C. where she served as a justice for 27 years. Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at her home surrounded by family.

Hundreds came together at the courthouse and held a candlelight vigil where they celebrated Ginsburg’s historic life and mourned her death. Many brought flowers and left messages honoring what her life’s work meant to the world. Understanding what her absence on the Supreme Court will mean for our future, many chanted “vote him out” in reference to Trump.


The Supreme Court announced her death via a statement on Friday. “Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. “We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today, we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tired and resolute champion of justice.”

Ginsburg was later appointed Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993, becoming the second woman to sit on the bench of the United States Supreme Court in its 212 year history.

Her death, while not unexpected, feels especially upsetting given the state of our country. We’re dealing with massive fires in the west, a pandemic that’s killed almost 200,000 people in the U.S. alone and crippled our economy, a school year unlike anything we’ve ever seen, and an election coming up that feels as if our entire democracy is resting on (because it is). It’s too much.

Before her death, Ginsburg made it clear that she does not want our current president deciding who will replace her on the Supreme Court. Her granddaughter, Clara Spera, said in a statement to NPR that her grandmother stated, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Mourners occasionally clapped and sang “Amazing Grace,” “America the Beautiful,” and “Imagine,” but for the most part there was silence and a lot of tears.

“I think she just did a lot for this country and it’s really important that people recognize that and show support and also be clear and have a visual representation we’re not going anywhere,” Nairika Murphy told NPR of her presence at the Supreme Court last night. “Regardless of who’s placed in her spot and who’s elected, that we’re not going to move backward to the 1950s. I think that this country is in a really dangerous place, and I think the fact that we’re still questioning climate science, and women’s reproductive rights, it’s unbelievable to me.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced today that New York State will honor the life and legacy of RBG with a statue in Brooklyn, her birthplace.

“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg selflessly pursued truth and justice in a world of division, giving voice to the voiceless and uplifting those who were pushed aside by forces of hate and indifference,” Cuomo said in a statement. “She was a monumental figure of equality, and we can all agree that she deserves a monument in her honor.”