Hundreds flock to Supreme Court for impromptu vigil honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg

September 19, 2020

People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi makes the sign of the cross after pausing outside the U.S. Supreme Court where flowers, signs and chalk messages on the sidewalk have been left in tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stops to view the tributes to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court Sunday morning. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

People gather at the Supreme Court on the morning after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, one of the high court's liberal justices, and a champion of gender equality, in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Two people walk past the Supreme Court on the morning after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, one of the high court’s liberal justices, and a champion of gender equality, on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Cardboard signs and flowers
Cardboard signs and flowers blanket the Supreme Court’s grounds on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The 87-year-old died Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer after 27 years on the court. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Two people embrace in front of Supreme Court
Two people embrace in front of the Supreme Court on the morning after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of gender equality, on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Person with flowers
This person leaves flowers on the Supreme Court’s grounds on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Cardboard signs and flowers
Some of the many cardboard signs and flowers blanketing the Supreme Court’s grounds on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Cardboard signs and image of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
One of the many tributes blanketing the Supreme Court’s grounds on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in honor of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Cardboard signs and flowers
Many cardboard signs and flowers blanket the Supreme Court’s grounds on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

cardboard signs and flowers, with people in the background
People are seen on the Supreme Court’s grounds on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, paying tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as cardboard signs and flowers blanket the area. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

cardboard signs and flowers, with people standing
More people are seen on the Supreme Court’s grounds on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, paying tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Cardboard signs and flowers
Cardboard signs and flowers blanket the Supreme Court’s grounds on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The 87-year-old died Friday of metastatic pancreatic cancer after 27 years on the court. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

The American flag blows in the wind after it was lowered to half-staff Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The American flag blows in the wind after it was lowered to half-staff on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, at the Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A couple pauses outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A couple pauses outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Flowers and light candies outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Flowers and light candies outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

overhead shot of light candies
This is an overhead shot of light candies positioned to spell “RBG” outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

Flowers and mourners crowd the steps outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in tribute to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People gather at the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, outside the Supreme Court after it announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A crowd of people gather at the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A demonstrator at right argues with people gathered at the Supreme Court to mourn the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A demonstrator at right argues with people gathered at the Supreme Court to mourn the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

People light candies outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
One of the large cardboard signs people left outside the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in tribute to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

People lay flowers and light candies outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Mourners gather at the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Another view of people who gathered at the Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The flag at the White House flies at half-staff Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The flag at the White House flies at half-staff on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Ginsburg Memorial
A crowd shot of the hundreds of mourners who converged on the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s memorial. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

(1/27)
People gather at the Supreme Court on the morning after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, one of the high court's liberal justices, and a champion of gender equality, in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Cardboard signs and flowers
Two people embrace in front of Supreme Court
Person with flowers
Cardboard signs and flowers
Cardboard signs and image of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Cardboard signs and flowers
cardboard signs and flowers, with people in the background
cardboard signs and flowers, with people standing
Cardboard signs and flowers
The American flag blows in the wind after it was lowered to half-staff Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A couple pauses outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Flowers and light candies outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
overhead shot of light candies
People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
A demonstrator at right argues with people gathered at the Supreme Court to mourn the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People light candies outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People lay flowers and light candies outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The flag at the White House flies at half-staff Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Ginsburg Memorial
The death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday night spurred many D.C.-area residents to gather outside of the nation’s highest court to remember the titanic figure.

What started with a small crowd following the announcement of her death shortly after 7:30 p.m. grew to a few hundred to honor Ginsburg, 87, whose staunch advocacy for women’s rights as a lawyer and a judge helped her become a pop culture folk hero later in life. The American flag was already at half mast by the time people began to gather.


Read more about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life and the impact her death is having:


WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez reported that the vigil began quietly, with a few people leaving flowers on the steps. Some attendees, according to Alvarez, were crying as well.

“Certain things are beyond ideology, beyond politics,” Kenneth Crawford told CBS News outside of the Supreme Court.

People lay flowers and light candies outside the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“She was a legend well beyond her time on the court, and especially in the later years, she showed such personal courage and grit and resolve in sacrificing her health and her twilight years for her country.”

A recent Georgetown graduate, Crawford told CBS News that he saw Ginsburg as family.

Alvarez reported that candles began being lit and the crowd, which had swelled into the hundreds, began clapping for Ginsburg.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was an icon for women,” Carol Wayman told CBS News. “My success, my family, my wife, I wouldn’t have that without Justice Ginsburg and what she contributed.”

“She was brilliant, she was human, she was compassionate and brave,” Elizabeth Carswell, Wayman’s wife, told CBS News. “A model for all of us who struggle. She fought so hard and just felt like we had to come here and say thank you.”

Renditions of “Amazing Grace” and John Lennon’s “Imagine” were also sung by those gathering at the court.

Jennifer Berger, 37, told the Associated Press 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,” Berger said. “It is amazing to see how many people are feeling this loss tonight and saying goodbye.”

“She was a lion, an inspiration,” Kali Holder told WTOP, as she stood staring up at the Supreme Court building with her partner, Laura Russo.

From voting rights to women’s rights, Holder says Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has impacted her life in many ways.

“I’m a queer woman and her support in that was really a major part of moving this country forward,” she said.

Elizabeth Lockwood also came to pay her respects.

“Obviously, she meant a lot to a lot of people,” she said.

Lockwood bikes through the area often and today, her friend Eugenie Ballering joined her and said she didn’t expect to see so many people gathered around the memorial so early in the morning.

“It’s wonderful, but it’s also terrifying to think about what is ahead of us,” Ballering said.

Lockwood stressed the importance of staying positive about the future.

“It’s our turn now. We have to step up and we have to be strong.”

Another young woman who attended told CBS News it was “inspiring” to see so many people there.

“I love that so many people, distant and wearing masks, to have the idea to — this is really painful and we should come out and pay our respects,” she said.

ginsburg memorial
A crowd shot of the hundreds who converged on the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s memorial. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

The night of remembrance was disrupted when one man — who Alvarez identified as right-wing provocateur Jacob Wohl — took a megaphone into the crowd and began to say “Roe v. Wade is dead,” a reference to the landmark Supreme Court ruling that established abortion rights in the U.S.

A brief shouting match followed where chants of Ginsburg’s popular nickname “RBG” matched Wohl’s own about how Senate Republicans would move to quickly appoint another conservative justice to the court. Wohl eventually left the area.

A source familiar with the plans of the liberal nonprofit Indivisible told CBS News that another vigil is being planned for Saturday, which is expected to be followed by mass events across the country this upcoming week.

WTOP’s Melissa Howell, Alejandro Alvarez, Dave Dildine, The Associated Press and CBS News contributed to this report.

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