Watch CBS News

Democrats in Congress propose monument to honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Democratic lawmakers want to build a monument in the Capitol to honor the late civil rights icon and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

The Democratic Women's Caucus, led by co-chairs Representative Lois Frankel of Florida, Jackie Speier of California and Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, proposed a bill Tuesday to erect a monument to Ginsburg on the Capitol grounds or inside the complex.

"It is only fitting that we immortalize this feminist icon with a statue in the Capitol that honors her legacy and educates future generations of her profound contributions," Speier said in a statement.  

The liberal jurist spent over a quarter century on the Supreme Court weighing in to support abortion rights, marriage equality, the Affordable Care Act, and equal pay for women. She also achieved an unusual measure of pop culture fame that began when a blogger writing about a decision Ginsburg had written dubbed her "Notorious R.B.G."  

Years before taking her seat on the high court, Ginsburg worked with the Women's Rights Project in the 1970s, arguing six landmark cases on gender equality before the high court. She won five of the cases, all aimed at eliminating legal barriers that held women back in the workplace and civic life. She advanced cases that would establish precedents for treating men and women equally under the law in such areas as jury duty requirements, Social Security and military spousal benefits, and the legal drinking age.

If the monument bill passes, Ginsburg would join only a handful of women depicted in the halls of the Capitol. The Capitol currently houses less than a dozen statues of females, among them, Helen Keller, Rosa Parks and Mother Joseph. The House bill does not specify what the monument would look like, how much it would cost or, for that matter, what form it would take — whether it should be a statue, bust or portrait. 

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has introduced a comparable bill in the Senate, along with 15 Democratic co-sponsors, including Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.  

A Democratic aide for the Senate Rules Committee opined that the measure should pass with a simple majority when it comes to the floor and predicted that more Republicans would vote in favor of the bill, "given the record of accomplishment of Justice Ginsburg." 

But the bill, unveiled during the first week of Women's History Month, currently has no bipartisan support and would need 60 votes — that is, the support of 10 Republicans — to proceed. CBS News has reached out to several Senate Republican offices for comment. 

The measure, if passed, would require the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library in consultation with the Senate Rules Committee and Committee on House Administration to obtain a monument that honors Ginsburg within two years of the enactment, the Democratic staff aide said. 

Klobuchar said Justice Ginsburg's "dedication to our country's values and ideals" is an example for all  Americans. "She was an icon and a trailblazer who dedicated her life to opening doors for women at a time when many insisted on keeping them shut," the Minnesota senator said in a statement. 

"The Capitol is our most recognizable symbol of Democracy, a place where people from across our country have their voices represented and heard. It is only fitting that the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives honor her life and service by establishing a monument in the Capitol," Klobuchar added. 

This move by Democratic lawmakers comes almost six months after Ginsburg died of cancer at the age of 87 in September. A fierce champion of women's rights, Ginsburg was the longest-serving woman on the Supreme Court and a strong liberal voice. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.