Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday officially unveiled a portrait carving immortalizing Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court and Brooklyn native on the New York State Capitol’s Great Western Staircase.
“Her voice continues to inspire, to prod women, to push them to their best, to be their best self,” Hochul said. “And also, to make contributions to society, whether it’s in the law or other professions, because all of us have a responsibility to understand her story, embrace that story as one of our fellow New York women, but also to make sure we all leave our own legacies, just as she did.
“So, she’ll continue to be a beacon of hope, a reminder of our responsibilities, and make sure we continue to strive for a state and a nation that ensures just and equal treatment for all,” the governor added.
She said Monday was “an extraordinary day here in our State Capitol – a day we’ve been waiting for for a considerable time to start recognizing that there are women in the State of New York, and a number of them are quite extraordinary, and the fact that there were no women when the initial carvings were done in this million-dollar staircase – they thought they fixed it back in 1898 and added six women and thought they were done now. They were wrong.”
Hochul said she was “proud to be here with our Commissioner, Jeanette Moy, who has done a great job shepherding this project through in the final months.”
In attendance at the unveiling ceremony were: Justice Ginsburg’s daughter, Jane Ginsburg, and the Ginsburg family; Claire and Ed Stiepleman; and the sister-in-law and brother-in-law.
Also attending the ceremony was Meredith Bergmann, the sculptor.
“I want to thank her and her family for being here as well. And Patrick Pigott, the artist who helped us with the renderings and others were involved in the sculpting,” the governor said. “It was -what a great, great project this has been. A number of elected officials are joining us here. I just saw Assemblywoman Glick is behind us. I don’t have the full list. I saw Assemblymember Pat Fahy.
“But today we celebrate one woman in particular, a woman who has inspired an entire generation with T-shirts and ‘notorious RBG’ and all the excitement and energy about the one and only Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Hochul added. “She is one of New York’s most revered daughters. She also made history with her Brooklyn toughness and the tenacity that was required to break through, not just glass ceilings.
“It seemed like she had to break through walls in order to achieve what she did and so many strikes against her starting out,” she continued. “She had to force her way through the doors in law firms and in courtrooms and all the work she had to do. And it was not an easy journey. And I’m really proud that what she struggled with and had to overcome and how she persevered was captured in movies and books so people could understand that ascending to the highest court in our nation was not an easy task for her, but she made it happen.”
Hochul said that, by force of her intellect and toughness, Justice Ginsburg achieved history, not just to be the second woman appointed to the Supreme Court of the United States America, but also the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court.
“Now, she also is a model for some of us who are raising kids while balancing careers,” she said. “The fact that Jane is here and obviously thriving. She survived with the support of a strong family. You know her mother’s endeavors. But that certainly inspired Jane to be a preeminent professor at Columbia Law School today.
“So, her legacy continues even through her family,” the governor added. “But for us, the legacy is one of a woman who had a managed the home front, a husband with illness, and try to break through so much.
“So, she’ll continue to be a beacon of hope, a reminder of our responsibilities, and make sure we continue to strive for a state and a nation that ensures just and equal treatment for all,” she continued.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was born in Brooklyn on Mar. 15, 1933.
She married Martin D. Ginsburg in 1954, and has a daughter, Jane, and a son, James.
According to her biography, she received her B.A. from Cornell University, attended Harvard Law School, and received her LL.B. from Columbia Law School.
She served as a law clerk to the Hon. Edmund L. Palmieri, Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, from 1959–1961.
From 1961–1963, she was a research associate and then associate director of the Columbia Law School Project on International Procedure.
Ginsburg was a Professor of Law at Rutgers University School of Law from 1963–1972, and Columbia Law School from 1972–1980, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California from 1977–1978.
In 1971, she co-founded the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, and served as the ACLU’s General Counsel from 1973–1980, and on the National Board of Directors from 1974–1980.
She served on the Board and Executive Committee of the American Bar Foundation from 1979-1989, on the Board of Editors of the American Bar Association Journal from 1972-1978, and on the Council of the American Law Institute from 1978-1993.
She was appointed a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1980.
President Clinton nominated her as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and she took her seat August 10, 1993.
Justice Ginsburg died on Sept. 18, 2020.