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Ruth Bader Ginsburg to be remembered with statue in her native Brooklyn

People gather outside the Supreme Court to mourn Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the morning after her death.
(J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press)

A statue of late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be built in her native Brooklyn, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.

Ginsburg died Friday of complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. A legal trailblazer and champion of women’s rights, she became the high court’s second female justice in 1993.

Cuomo said that he would appoint a commission to choose an artist and oversee the selection of a location for the statue.

In a statement, Cuomo said the statue would serve as a physical reminder of Ginsburg’s “many contributions to the America we know today and as an inspiration for those who will continue to build on her immense body of work.”

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Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn in 1933 and grew up in the borough’s Flatbush neighborhood. She first gained fame as a litigator for the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The governor said Ginsburg “selflessly pursued truth and justice in a world of division, giving voice to the voiceless and uplifting those who were pushed aside by forces of hate and indifference.”

The world changed, politics roared, America’s mood shifted this way and that, and Ginsburg worked, steadily as she had always done, dismantling injustice wherever she could.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg does not need a seat on the Supreme Court to earn her place in the American history books,” then-President Clinton said when he announced her appointment in 1993. “She has already done that.”

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In Washington, D.C., mourners dropped off bouquets and gathered outside the Supreme Court early Saturday. Homemade signs and a collection of flowers blanketed the court’s grounds.

Hours earlier, hundreds of people had turned out after hearing of Ginsburg’s death. They wept and sang in a candlelight vigil, packing the high court’s steps in a spontaneous memorial.

Scores of candles flickered in the nighttime wind as people knelt to leave flowers, American flags and handwritten condolence messages for Ginsburg. Prayer candles with Ginsburg’s photo on them were also left on the steps.

Several times, dozens in the crowd broke out into song, singing “Amazing Grace” and “This Land Is Your Land” as others embraced one another and wiped away tears. At one point, the crowd broke into a thunderous applause — lasting for about a minute — for Ginsburg.

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

President Trump and Joe Biden react to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, calling the Supreme Court justice ‘amazing’ and ‘a voice for freedom.’

Jennifer Berger, 37, said she felt compelled to join the large crowd that gathered to pay tribute to Ginsburg’s life.

“I think it is important for us to recognize such a trailblazer,” she said. “It is amazing to see how many people are feeling this loss tonight and saying goodbye.”

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Ginsburg spent her final years on the bench as the unquestioned leader of the court’s liberal wing and became something of a rock star to her admirers. Young women especially seemed to embrace the court’s Jewish grandmother, affectionately calling her the Notorious RBG, for her defense of the rights of women and minorities.

The memorial service remained mostly peaceful and somber, but turned tense for several minutes after a man with a megaphone approached people in the crowd and began to chant that “Roe v. Wade is dead,” a reference to the landmark Supreme Court ruling establishing abortion rights nationwide.

A large group confronted the man, leading to a brief shouting match. Many in the crowd began yelling, “RBG,” to try to drown out the man’s voice as he continued to say Republicans would push to quickly appoint a conservative justice to the court. Supreme Court police officers stood alongside the crowd and the man eventually left the area.


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