Hundreds Gather at Supreme Court to Mourn Ginsburg’s Death, Trump Orders Flags to Be Flown at Half-Staff

Updated: 2020-09-19 12:45:10

Several hundred people gathered on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court late Friday to mark the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, packing the steps of the high court as well as the street across from the U.S. Capitol in a nighttime memorial as they sang and held a candlelight vigil.

People left bouquets of flowers, small U.S. flags, prayer candles, and handwritten messages for Ginsburg on the Supreme Court’s steps. The late justice, 87, died late Friday due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer, the court said. She served 27 years on the court.

“RBG inspired so many young women to follow their dreams and set their sights on things that so many people deemed impossible. And she made them possible,” Claire Shelby, 19, told Reuters. “I think that everyone out here tonight is here tonight to honor her memory and make sure she is not tarnished in history.”

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87
People gather to mourn the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the steps in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, on Sept. 18, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supreme Court Obit Ginsburg
People gather at the Supreme Court in Washington on Sept. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Several times, dozens in the crowd broke out into song, singing “Amazing Grace” and “This Land is Your Land.” At one point, the crowd broke into applause—lasting for about a minute—for Ginsburg.

“Thank you RBG,” one sign read. On the sidewalk, “RBG” was drawn inside a pink chalk heart.

Jennifer Berger, 37, told The Associated Press, “I think it is important for us to recognize such a trailblazer,” adding, “It is amazing to see how many people are feeling this loss tonight and saying goodbye.”

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87
The national flag flies at half staff as people gather to mourn the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the steps in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, on Sept. 18, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dies At 87
The national flag flies at half staff as people gather to mourn the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the steps in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, on Sept. 18, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

In New York, an image of Ginsburg and the alternating messages “thank you” and “rest in power” were projected on the front of the New York State Civil Supreme Court building in Manhattan.

An image of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg is projected onto the New York State Civil Supreme Court building in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. after she passed away
An image of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg is projected onto the New York State Civil Supreme Court building in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. after she passed away Sept. 18, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Flags at Half Staff

President Donald Trump in the early hours of Saturday issued a proclamation directing that all flags at the White House and public buildings and grounds, and military facilities, be flown at half staff until Ginsburg is interred. Trump also directed that the flags be flown at half-staff at all U.S. embassies and other facilities abroad.

Supreme Court Obit Ginsburg
The American flag blows in the wind after it was lowered to half-staff in Washington after the Supreme Court announced that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, on Sept. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Today, our Nation mourns the loss of a trailblazer, not only in the field of law, but in the history of our country,” Trump said in the proclamation, adding that she was an “inspiration to all Americans.”

“Renowned for her powerful dissents at the Supreme Court, Justice Ginsburg epitomized powerful yet respectful argument; that you can disagree with someone without being disagreeable to them,” the proclamation read.

Martin Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bill Clinton, William Rehnquist
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg takes the court oath from Chief Justice William Rehnquist, right, as Ginsburg’s husband Martin holds the Bible and President Bill Clinton watches at left, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, on Aug. 10, 1993. (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander, File)
Supreme Court Obit Ginsburg
Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is seen in her chambers at the Supreme Court in Washington on July 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

“Justice Ginsburg’s work helped bring about greater equality for women, secure rights for the disabled, and will continue to influence our Nation for generations to come,” the proclamation continued. “In addition to her quick mind, she brought flair to the bench with her stylish jabots and her warm friendships among colleagues, even those with whom she often disagreed, most notably with the late Justice Antonin Scalia.”

“Her commitment to the law and her fearlessness in the face of death inspired countless “RBG” fans, and she continues to serve as a role model to countless women lawyers. Her legacy and contribution to American history will never be forgotten,” read the proclamation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday said the Senate would be allowed to vote on a replacement nominated by Trump. The court now has five justices nominated by Republican presidents, and three nominated by Democratic presidents.

Trump in early September announced a list of additional potential Supreme Court nominees in case a vacancy opens up.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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