Most recently, Georgia Rep. and civil rights leader John Lewis lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda after he died in July. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings lay in state in Statuary Hall last year. Using the Rotunda for such an honor requires approval from both House and Senate leaders. Pelosi did not need cooperation from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to utilize Statuary Hall.
The only other Supreme Court justice to lie in state was William Howard Taft, who served as chief justice after his term as president.
The Capitol has been closed to nearly all visitors since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and details of the public’s access to Ginsburg at the Capitol, including public health guidance, have not yet been released. The public viewing of Lewis’ flag-draped casket was held outdoors in July. That was a departure from tradition but aligned with public health guidance, which says outdoor gatherings are safer than those in enclosed spaces.
The memorials for Ginsburg have put some congressional business on hold, including the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the Architect of the Capitol’s traditional First Nail Ceremony, scheduled for Wednesday. The First Nail Ceremony marks the official launch of construction on the inaugural platform and is attended by leaders of both chambers. It was postponed “out of respect for the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.”
Ginsburg, 87, died Friday after a long illness with pancreatic cancer. She will be buried Tuesday, Sept. 29, after Yom Kippur, the most solemn day in the Jewish calendar. She will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery alongside her husband of 56 years, Marty Ginsburg, who died in 2010. Members of the court, family and close friends will attend.