1 of 5 | Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in state in Statuary Hall of the Capitol in Washington on Friday, September 25, 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. She is the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol. Pool photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo
March 18 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court held a special session and bar memorial on Friday to honor the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who served as an associate justice from 1993 until her death ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Chief Justice John Roberts noted Ginsburg's accomplishments and those of other women during the bar memorial, a tradition that dates back to the death of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835, according to the official transcript of the proceedings.
"Today is the first time a woman serving as Solicitor General of the United States, a former law clerk to Justice Ginsburg no less, is presenting memorial resolutions to the court. Today is the first time that four seats on the bench are held by women as we receive those resolution," Roberts said.
Roberts added that "these facts are a good place to start" in paying tribute to the late justice and equated the bar memorial for Ginsburg to that for Justice Thurgood Marshall three decades ago.
"Perhaps in a league with him and no one else, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had already used the law to change our country profoundly for the better as an advocate prior to becoming a member of this court," Roberts said.
During his speech, Roberts noted that Ginsburg -- who was the second woman to join the high court after Sandra Day O'Connor -- developed a "rock star" persona as products depicting her hit the market. O'Connor retired from the court in 2006.
Robert, affectionately referring to her as the "Notorious RGB," added that she became an "icon" for girls and women across the world.
"Little girls started showing up on Halloween dressed as RGB," Roberts said. "It was an easy costume: any kind of black robe, black-rimmed glasses and a white jabot or other style color."
Roberts said that his favorite product paying tribute to the late justice was a small candy tin with Ginsburg's picture - named "Judge Mints."
During his speech, Roberts also joked about Ginsburg's unlikely close friendship with late justice Antonin Scalia, despite their ideological differences, as he recounted her early career as a lawyer.
Ginsburg, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993, was known for her liberal interpretation of the law while Scalia, who joined the court in 1986, maintained firm conservative interpretations of the law.
"The Solicitor General mentioned Justice Ginsburg's first appearance at the lectern was 50 years ago in Frontiero v. Richardson. Her 10-minute amicus allotment was uninterrupted by the justices, maybe because her dear friend, Antonin Scalia, was some years from joining the court," Roberts quipped.
"Instead of a lawyer appearing before this court and others, Justice Ginsburg might have preferred a career as an opera star. When asked, she did not disavow such an interest, simply noting that there was the catch that she could not sing."
Roberts noted that Ginsburg had argued six cases before the Supreme Court before joining the bench, winning five of them. She would later be appointed to serve in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
"She wrote more than 700 opinions as a circuit judge, earning a reputation as a careful, prudent jurist," Roberts recalled.
Roberts added that Ginsburg "was rightly proud that she never slowed down and never sacrificed precision, clarity or technical excellence" and called her the court's "resident expert in civil procedure and federal courts."
"Justice Ginsburg inspired artists and young women around the world, to be sure, but justices and lawyers in our system as well," Roberts said.
"That aspect of her influence was purposeful, guided by a belief that the adversarial court system operates in service of the rule of law that helps people who disagree to live together."
Ginsburg died at the age of 87 from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer and became the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol. She is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.