NEW YORK – Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life is being celebrated in her native New York City with plans for a statue, landmarks lit in blue and impromptu memorials at her childhood home in Brooklyn and the high school she attended.
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.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a commission will choose an artist and oversee the selection of a location for a statue that will 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.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, also ordered state landmarks such as One World Trade Center, Kosciuszko Bridge and New York State Fairgrounds lit in blue — the color of justice and reportedly Ginsburg’s favorite color — for Saturday night.
Cuomo said that 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.”
Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn in 1933. Outside her childhood home in the Flatbush neighborhood, Leroy McCarthy added “RBG” to a street sign honoring slain rapper Christopher “Notorious BIG” Wallace, whose stage name inspired the late justice's pop culture moniker: “Notorious R.B.G."
“I just want to show that Brooklyn respect for RGB,” said McCarthy.
Diana Brenneisen, who's lived in the home for 47 years, said she was shocked by the news of Ginsburg's death and felt a sense of pride living where she had grown up.
“She gave you an example you don’t have to be 6-foot-5 to be a factor in this world," Brenneisen's husband, William, added. “She will be missed.”
Outside James Madison High School, a pillar was adorned with colorful tributes to the 1950 graduate, including a sign that said: “We (Heart) You RBG.”
At the U.S. Open golf tournament in Mamaroneck, New York, north of New York City, flags were flown at half-staff in Ginsburg's honor.
Ginsburg first gained fame as a litigator for the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union before her appointment to the high court.
Ginsburg's former law clerk, Gillian Metzger, said working for the late justice “was really a dream come true.”
“She was already an idol of mine from her work as a women’s rights advocate and she left a lasting impression,” said Metzger, a Columbia University law professor.
Metzger said she'll often hear Ginsburg's voice in her head as she's writing, prompting her to reread her work to make sure it would've passed muster with her old boss, who “took so much care and chose each word and thought about what it would mean to say it that way.”
Ginsburg was “was very demanding, but she demanded even more from herself," Metzger said, recounting going to the office around 7:30 a.m. only to find that the justice had been up all night working.
“You had messages from her from 4, from 5 a.m. with comments on drafts,” Metzger said. “That’s something that I think it’s hard to see outside of chambers is just how hardworking she was.”