Public mourns Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she lies in repose at Supreme Court

In an unprecedented move, her casket has been placed outside on the court steps.

ByABC NEWS
September 23, 2020, 8:52 PM

Three days of public mourning for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a champion of equality and pioneer of women's rights, began Wednesday when her casket arrived at the Supreme Court for a dramatic procession up the steps lined by more than a hundred of her former law clerks.

PHOTO: People wait for the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to arrive at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
People wait for the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to arrive at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Her casket was placed on the Lincoln Catafalque, once used for President Abraham Lincoln, before a ceremony inside the court's Great Hall attended by family, friends and her fellow justices, all wearing masks.

Chief Justice John Roberts spoke, calling her a "fighter" for equal justice and saying "her voice was soft, but when she spoke, people listened."

PHOTO: The flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
The flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
Patrick Semansky/AP

Roberts, who sat next to Ginsburg on the Supreme Court bench, said her life was a reflection of the American Dream, noted her love of opera and called her "a star" who "found her stage in our courtroom."

One of her "many virtues" that defined her time on the bench, he said, was her "humility."

PHOTO: The flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is visible as Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts speaks during a private ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
The flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is visible as Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts speaks during a private ceremony at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
Andrew Harnik/Pool via AP

"The court was her family, too. This building was her home," he said. "Ruth is gone and we grieve."

"May she rest in peace," Roberts said, standing in front of a portrait of Ginsburg.

Then, in an unprecedented move, because of the pandemic, her casket was brought outside and placed at the top of the court steps under the portico so members of the public could pay their respects.

PHOTO: The casket of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is placed on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Sept.23, 2020.
The casket of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is placed on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Sept.23, 2020.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

There has been an outpouring of public support at the court since word of Ginsburg's death at age 87 came Friday night. With warm, sunny weather in Washington on Wednesday, large crowds were expected.

PHOTO: People, wearing "Notorious RBG" t-shirts, walk past the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, Sept. 23, 2020.
People, wearing "Notorious RBG" t-shirts, walk past the casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, Sept. 23, 2020.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Some of those who came to honor her wore "Notorious RBG" shirts, the nickname she became known by to her devoted supporters.

PHOTO: A child in a Supergirl costume pays respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
A child in a Supergirl costume pays respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose under the Portico at the top of the front steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
Pool/Reuters

Many who gazed at her flag-draped casket from the bottom of the court steps were women and girls.

PHOTO: People pay respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose in front of the Supreme Court, in Washington on Sept. 23, 2020.
People pay respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose in front of the Supreme Court, in Washington on Sept. 23, 2020.
Alex Brandon/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Mourners had started to gather early Wednesday morning near the court steps, where there had been a makeshift memorial of flowers and messages in remembrance of the impact she has had on people's lives in her almost 30 years as a liberal icon on the nation's high court.

PHOTO: Signs and flowers are left at a makeshift memorial in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sept. 21, 2020.
Signs and flowers are left at a makeshift memorial in front of the U.S. Supreme Court for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sept. 21, 2020.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The memorial, which wrapped around the building, was cleared away overnight -- some was collected by the court curator and other items were donated to Ginsburg's family or interested museums.

PHOTO: Members of the public pay respects to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as her flag-draped casket rests on the Lincoln catafalque on the west front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Members of the public pay respects to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as her flag-draped casket rests on the Lincoln catafalque on the west front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court through Thursday. The public outdoor viewings continue Wednesday until 10 p.m. and resume Thursday from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.

PHOTO: Members of the public pay respects to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as her flag-draped casket rests on the Lincoln catafalque on the west front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Members of the public pay respects to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as her flag-draped casket rests on the Lincoln catafalque on the west front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The White House announced that President Donald Trump would go to the court Thursday to pay his respects.

Among those paying their respects on Wednesday were Vice President Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton -- who nominated Ginsburg to the bench in 1993.

PHOTO: Women wait for the arrival of the casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court for a private  ceremony and two days of public viewing, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Women wait for the arrival of the casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court for a private ceremony and two days of public viewing, Sept. 23, 2020, in Washington, D.C.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

On Friday, Ginsburg will lie in state at the Capitol, the first woman in U.S. history to be so honored, at the direction of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

PHOTO: A woman waits for the arrival of the casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court for a private ceremony and two days of public viewing in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
A woman waits for the arrival of the casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court for a private ceremony and two days of public viewing in Washington, D.C., Sept. 23, 2020.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Nearby in the Capitol, a bitter political battle continued over her replacement.

She will be interred next week beside her husband of 56 years at Arlington National Cemetery.

ABC News' Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

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