Hundreds of people gathered Friday night outside the Supreme Court, singing in a candlelight vigil and weeping together as they mourned the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The large group of mourners packed the high court’s steps and the street across from the U.S. Capitol in a nighttime memorial. Dozens of people sat on the steps quietly reflecting on Ginsburg’s legacy.
Scores of memorial candles flickered in the wind along the front steps of the court as people knelt to leave bouquets of flowers, small American flags and handwritten condolence messages for Ginsburg, who died Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87 after 27 years on the court. 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 tears from their eyes. At one point, the crowd broke into a thunderous applause — lasting for about a minute — for Ginsburg.
“Thank you RBG,” one sign read. On the sidewalk, “RBG” was drawn inside a pink chalk heart.
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.”
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 defence of the rights of women and minorities.
The memorial service remained mostly peaceful and sombre, 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.