Ruth Bader Ginsburg becomes first woman to lie in state in US Capitol

Guardian staff and agency
<span>Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday becomes the first woman in American history to lie in state at the US Capitol building in Washington.

It took 168 years. The first American to lie in state under the famous dome was Henry Clay from Kentucky, who served as speaker of the House, and was accorded the honor in 1852.

Related: 'She was what America should be': mourners bid farewell to Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Rosa Parks – a civil rights heroine and a private citizen, not a government official – was previously the only woman who has lain in honor at the Capitol, though not in state, after her death in 2005.

Ginsburg died a week ago at the age of 87, after suffering from cancer, and since Wednesday she has been lying in repose in her flag-draped casket, outdoors at the top of the steps leading up to the historic supreme court building.

Thousands have filed by to pay their respects. Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, were jeered and booed when they visited on Thursday.

Despite Ginsburg’s dying wishes that her successor not be seated until after the next president is installed, Trump plans to announce his nominee on Saturday and hopes to fill the liberal’s seat with an arch conservative before the election on 3 November.

On Friday morning Ginsburg’s coffin was taken the short distance to the Capitol, where there was a private service prior to the casket being taken to lie in state under the ornate domed ceiling of the rotunda.

The service in the famous Statuary Hall was attended by her family and a small number of politicians and friends, and with musical selections from one of Ginsburg’s favorite opera singers, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves.

The Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, and his wife, Jill, planned to attend, along with the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Kamala Harris.

Trump is campaigning in Florida and has events there and in Georgia and Virginia on Friday, before returning late at night to the White House.

The last American to lie in state in the Capitol was congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who died in July.

Ginsburg also will be the first Jewish American to lie in state and just the second supreme court justice. The first, Chief Justice William Howard Taft, had also been president.

Members of the House and Senate who were not invited to the ceremony because of space limitations imposed by the coronavirus pandemic planned to pay their respects before a motorcade carrying Ginsburg’s casket departs the Capitol early afternoon.

She is to be buried alongside her late husband Marty in Arlington national cemetery on the outskirts of Washington.

The honor of lying in state has been accorded fewer than three dozen times, mostly to presidents, vice-presidents and members of Congress.