Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s former law clerks greet casket, serve as honorary pallbearers


Former law clerks for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stand on the steps of the Supreme Court as they await the arrival of the casket of Ginsburg to arrive at the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. Ginsburg, 87, died of cancer on Sept. 18. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s flag-draped casket arrived at the Supreme Court Wednesday morning and was carried into the court’s Great Hall, past her former law clerks lining the front steps while standing socially distanced.

The body of Justice Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court this week, with arrangements to allow for public viewing despite the coronavirus pandemic, the court said Monday.

Ginsburg’s close-knit relationship with her law clerks were not only marked by the dozens that solemnly welcomed the casket but on the list of honorary pallbearers, where a total of ten past and current law clerks were named.

Gillian Metzger, a Columbia University professor and former law clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the justice “left a lasting impression” in an interview with the Associated Press.

“Having the honor to clerk at the Supreme Court is a remarkable experience on its own, but to be able to do it with Justice Ginsburg was really a dream come true,” Metzger said, citing Ginsburg’s work as a women’s rights advocate.

“I don’t think I’m the only former clerk who sort of carries her voice in my head,” said the university law professor. “When I’m writing I will often have the experience of: I’ll write a sentence and I’ll look at it and I’ll think no, the justice wouldn’t let me get away with that.”

Metzger described the judge as “very demanding” but that the standard applied even more to Ginsburg, herself. The same exacting criteria applied to Ginsburg’s work ethic as well, known to often work overnight with notes and comments on drafts to law clerks messaged at 4 or 5 in the morning.

“That’s something that’s hard to see, outside of chambers, just how hard working she was. When you see the words and the power of her writing; part of that was because she took so much care,” added Metzger.

“If you know Justice Ginsburg, you know that even though people talk about her as being tiny she actually is at least 10 feet tall,” Metzger said with a smile, “And looms over all of us in her energy and force and determination. I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had stayed on the court forever.”

The justice died Friday at age 87 from pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg will lie in repose for two days at the court where she served for 27 years and, before that, argued six cases for gender equality in the 1970s.

On Friday, Ginsburg will lie in state at the Capitol, the first woman to do so and only the second Supreme Court justice after William Howard Taft. Taft had also been president. Rosa Parks, a private citizen as opposed to a government official, is the only woman who has lain in honor at the Capitol.

Since her death, people have been leaving flowers, notes, placards and all manner of Ginsburg paraphernalia outside the court in tribute to the woman who became known in her final years as the “Notorious RBG.” Court workers cleared away the items and cleaned the court plaza and sidewalk in advance of Wednesday’s ceremony.

Ginsburg will be buried beside her husband, Martin, in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery next week. Martin Ginsburg died in 2010. She is survived by a son and a daughter, four grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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