Chief Justice John Roberts on Wednesday paid tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg after the arrival of her casket at the Supreme Court, where the body of the iconic liberal justice will lie in repose for two days of public viewing.
“Justice Ginsburg’s life was one of the many versions of the American dream,” Roberts said in a brief eulogy as members of her family looked on.
Ginsburg died Friday of complications from pancreatic cancer at 87.
“Her father was an immigrant from Odessa,” Roberts continued. “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.’”
Thousands of people are expected to pay their respects to Ginsburg on Wednesday and Thursday at the Supreme Court. Among them: President Trump, who plans to visit Thursday, two days before he is expected to announce his nominee to replace Ginsburg on the bench.
As the leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, Ginsburg became something of a pop culture icon later in life, embracing the nickname “Notorious RBG,” which she earned for her work defending the rights of women and minorities.
“It was said that Ruth wanted to be an opera virtuoso but became a rock star instead,” Roberts said. “She found her stage right behind me, in our courtroom.”
It was there, Roberts said, that Ginsburg “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.”
Over 100 of Ginsburg’s former law clerks lined up outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning to greet her casket.
“Her voice in court and in our conference room was soft,” Roberts added. “But when she spoke, people listened.”
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