WASHINGTON — Lawyer Stephanie Schlatter looked up at the Supreme Court building and wiped away tears, some of them trickling down on her pink face mask.

That mask had a distinct picture emblazoned across it: That of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“The way she approached everything, very professionally, very methodically,” Schlatter, 51, a pro bono manager at a law firm, tearfully said Friday evening, just hours after Ginsburg’s death. As the news spread across the nation and its capital, dozens gathered outside the courthouse where Ginsburg made her legacy.

Schlatter said the loss of Ginsburg leaves a lot of issues, such as civil protections, gay marriage and women’s rights, at stake.

“She was always at the top of her game as far as legal arguments. I think on a personal level, she was holding on to save this country,” Schlatter said. “Just her persistence and knowing and keeping her focus on what she wanted to do and making sure she did it well so there was never a question. I think she’s a role model. Not just for women but for everybody.”

Two women embrace in front of the Supreme Court building paying their respects to Justice Ruth Bather Ginsburg after she died, in Washington, DC, on Friday, September 18, 2020. Ginsburg died at the age of 87 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, the court announced on September 18, 2020.

The crowd at the Supreme Court late Friday night was steadily growing by 9:30 p.m. ET. But despite the growing number of people, the scene was very quiet – a sign of respect. Some brought flowers, some brought candles. Some brought their children, some brought their pets.

Kent Campbell, 34, had his arm draped around Mekita Rivas, 30, as the pair looked on the court reverently. They were out to dinner earlier and saw the news about Ginsburg.

Kent Campbell, 34, and Mekita Rivas, 30. pictured from behind, look on at the somber scene outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday night. The couple had just eaten dinner when they heard the news about Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, and they immediately went to the courthouse to pay their respects.
Kent Campbell, 34, and Mekita Rivas, 30. pictured from behind, look on at the somber scene outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday night. The couple had just eaten dinner when they heard the news about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, and they immediately went to the courthouse to pay their respects.

“I gasped,” Rivas recalled. At the time, the couple was two blocks away from the courthouse. Rivas says she turned to Campbell and said, “We have to go to the court.”

“She was a trailblazer,” Rivas said. “I think she is reason for so many of the civil rights that we take for granted today, especially as it comes to women and not being discriminated against in the workplace. She just was a titan of the legal system, and I feel like her being gone now, it really hits you. Everything she contributed. It feels so surreal . . . The thing that hits me the most is the fragility of all these rights that she championed.”

Rivas added, “She was living history. Just to be alive at the same time as her. How incredible is that.”

Campbell said he felt it unsettling that there is discussion about filling Ginsburg’s shoes.

“It’s crazy to me. It’s disrespectful,” Campbell said. “Can’t even let us have the night and you’re already talking about filling her seat”

Moriah Graham, 28, said she had just moved to city and felt lucky to experience the moment with everyone. 

“Justice Ginsburg was such a huge presence,” Graham said. “The way she spent her whole life dedicated to fighting for women’s rights.”

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a big believer in the power of people when they speak out for themselves,” she said. “The power of advocacy. It’s great to be able to be out here, to just kind of experience this moment collectively, remember her life and her legacy and what she fought for. I hope where ever she is now she is getting the rest she deserves.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Crowds tearfully remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the U.S. Supreme Court



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