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Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at Supreme Court as Roberts honors legacy

Ceremony honors Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Special Report: Supreme Court ceremony honors the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg 32:04

Washington — The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is lying in repose Wednesday and Thursday at the U.S. Supreme Court, where Americans can pay their respects to a woman who spent her career fighting for equality and justice.

During a brief private ceremony, Chief Justice John Roberts said Ginsburg's life was "one of the many versions of the American dream" and said her many writings during her 27-year tenure on the Supreme Court will "steer the court for decades."

Before Ginsburg's casket arrived at the Supreme Court, her former clerks lined the steps to serve as honorary pallbearers. A hearse carrying the casket, draped in an American flag, arrived in front of the court shortly before 9:30 a.m. Supreme Court police officers carried the casket up the high court's marble steps and into the Supreme Court's Great Hall, the site of the ceremony. The remaining justices stayed inside the Great Hall, where the casket was initially placed. 

The eight justices, six of whom were accompanied by their spouses, wore masks and were joined by former Justice Anthony Kennedy, who retired in 2018.

Casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington
The casket of the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is carried at the U.S. Supreme Court, where it will lie in repose in Washington, September 23, 2020. JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS

"It has been said that Ruth wanted to be an opera virtuoso, but became a rock star instead," Roberts said.

Describing Ginsburg as "tough," "brave," "a fighter" who was also "thoughtful," "careful" and "compassionate," the chief justice also joked that his late colleague could also be considered "clueless" when it came to sports.

The chief justice said Ginsburg also inspired humility in others, including himself as he would often receive phone calls regarding upcoming events. Expecting to receive himself an invitation to speak, Roberts recounted that in most instances, it was Ginsburg whose attendance was sought.

"She will live on in what she did to improve the law and the lives of all of us, and yet still Ruth is gone and we grieve," Roberts said.

Following the private ceremony, the public will be able to pay its respects on the portico at the top of the Supreme Court steps. 

"The public is invited to pay respects in front of the Building from approximately 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Wednesday, September 23, and from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Thursday, September 24," the Supreme Court said in a statement. 

President Trump will visit the Supreme Court on Thursday to pay his respects to Ginsburg, the White House said.

On Friday, Ginsburg will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol. She will become the first woman to do so.

Ginsburg leaves a legacy of decades of public service fighting for gender and racial equality and justice. 

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