WASHINGTON (WJZ/AP) — The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lay in state Friday at the U.S. Capitol, the first woman in American history to do so, in commemoration of her extraordinary life.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was with “profound sorrow” that she welcomed the liberal icon and opened the private service.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, sat quietly with other elected officials, friends and family. His vice presidential running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris also attended.

WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 24: A Supreme Court Honor Guard moves the flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg back into the court as Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building on September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. Ginsburg, who was appointed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, served on the high court from 1993, until her death on September 18, 2020. (Photo by Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty Images)

Mourners gathered under coronavirus restrictions for the service for Ginsburg, who died last week at age 87, as her casket made the short procession from the court’s steps where it had been on public view for several days to the East Front of the Capitol. A military honor guard carried it inside the Capitol’s stately Statuary Hall.

Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer welcomed Ginsburg’s casket with the Capitol in turmoil. President Donald is prepared to announce a conservative nominee to replace the justice on Saturday, weeks before the election. A Senate confirmation vote is expected in late October.

Multiple sources told CBS News Trump is expected to name Amy Comey Barrett as Ginsburg’s replacement.

Speaking ahead of the event, Pelosi told CBS that Americans need to know what’s at stake for the “rush” to confirm Ginsburg’s replacement.

Outside the Capitol, Crystal Reese from Washington, D.C., remembered the justice as a champion of women.

“She has fought her whole life for me and every woman in this country,” Reese said.

Mourners, like Joan Crawford from New York, felt compelled to pay their respects to show gratitude for her work.

“She didn’t just fight for women, she fought for people of color, she fought for men,” Rondeena Ross from Florida said.

The politics of the moment, in a tense election year, rippled throughout the celebrations this week of Ginsburg’s life and career. But Friday’s ceremony began as a celebration and honoring of her life and work, with musical selections from one of Ginsburg’s favorite opera singers, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves. She is the first Jewish American to lie in state at the Capitol.

Small in stature, large in history, Ginsburg was remembered as a bright Columbia graduate who was passed over for jobs at a time when few women entered law, only to go on to reshape the nation’s laws protecting women’s rights and equality.

To many she was simply “RBG,” or “The Notorious RBG,” as legions of fans called the Brooklyn-born justice.

“Brick by brick, case by case,” said Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt of the Adras Israel Congregation in Washington, she changed the course of American law.

“Today, she makes history again,” the rabbi said.

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Few Republicans attended the service that was filled with women and Democrats. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, both former presidential contenders, were among those attending.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is leading the push for Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg, was invited but noticeably missing. The GOP whip, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, was there.

Services were brief, with the rabbi’s reflections and prayer, before guests lined up to pass by the casket and pay their respects.

Toward the end of the line of mourners, one dropped to the ground and did three quick pushups. It was Bryant Johnson, the justice’s beloved trainer of her popular workouts.

WATCH: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Personal Trainer Bryant Johnson Does Pushups In Front Of Her Casket

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

The honor of lying in state has been accorded fewer than three dozen times, mostly to presidents, vice presidents, and members of Congress. Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon, was the most recent person to lie in state following his death in July. Henry Clay, the Kentucky lawmaker who served as Speaker of the House and also was a senator, was the first in 1852. Rosa Parks — a private citizen, not a government official — is the only woman who has lain in honor at the Capitol.

Ginsburg has lain in repose for two days at the Supreme Court, where thousands of people paid their respects, including President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump on Thursday. Spectators booed and chanted “vote him out” as the president, who wore a mask, stood silently near Ginsburg’s casket at the top of the court’s front steps.

Trump plans to announce his nomination Saturday of a woman to take Ginsburg’s place on the high court, where she served for 27 years and was the leader of the liberal justices.

Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, will be buried next week in Arlington National Cemetery beside her husband, Martin, who died in 2010.

(© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Kelsey Kushner

Comments
  1. Gregg says:

    RIP Justice Ginsburg and damn Trump for ignoring your last wish. VOTE HIM OUT Isn’t it funny the only way Trump can get a cheering costumed crowd is at his “rallies” When he is faced with a random crowd of the general public somewhere they boo & chant VOTE HIM OUT

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