There were outpours of grief and respect in the Capital Region Saturday following the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a New York City native who spent her college years in upstate New York, at Cornell University.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans for a statue of Ginsburg to be erected in her native Brooklyn. A candlelight vigil was held in downtown Schenectady Saturday night, outside the Schenectady County courthouse. Another was planned in Albany, outside the state Court of Appeals building.
“No speeches or politicking. Just honoring a great American life,” an announcement about the Schenectady event said.
Cuomo also ordered that state landmarks across the state — including the Albany International Airport Gateway and the McCall SUNY building, Alfred E. Smith Building and state Education Building in downtown Albany — be lit in blue Saturday night in Ginsburg’s honor. Blue is the color of justice, and was reportedly her favorite color.
While Ginsburg, who died in Washington, D.C., on Friday at age 87 after multiple bouts with cancer, was an iconic figure among liberals and progressives, and women in particular, the mourning crossed party lines.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was a fierce advocate and a trailblazer for women in public service…While I disagreed with many of her legal views, RBG was a brilliant and tenacious justice who earned my utmost respect,” said former Republican congresswoman Claudia Tenney of New Hartford, a conservative who is running to reclaim the 22nd Congressional District in November.
“Our NY-21 community shares our deepest condolences to the family of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who are grieving her loss at this very difficult time. Rest In Peace,” U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Saratoga, who represents the 21st Congressional District, wrote on Facebook.
“Loved her work on the Supreme Court and she was deeply dedicated. My heartfelt sympathies to her family,” Liz Joy of Schenectady, Republican and Conservative 20th District congressional candidate, wrote on Twitter.
In announcing plans for a memorial statue at a location in Brooklyn that is still to be determined, Cuomo praised Ginsburg.
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg selflessly pursued truth and justice in a world of division, giving voice to the voiceless and uplifting those who were pushed aside by forces of hate and indifference. As a lawyer, jurist, and professor, she redefined gender equity and civil rights and ensured America lived up to her founding ideals — she was a monumental figure of equality, and we can all agree that she deserves a monument in her honor,” Cuomo said.
Democrats in Capital Region politics said her death was the loss of a legendary figure in legal circles — in her decades before joining the high court, Ginsburg was a leading litigator on behalf of women’s rights.
“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing marks the end of a legendary, trailblazing career. Her departure is a profound loss for our nation, our courts and the cause of justice. Yet I take some solace in knowing her work and legacy are timeless, and her many achievements will live on among the greatest lights of American history,” said U.S. Rep Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, who represents the 20th Congressional District.
“We have lost a legend in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has left her mark on history among our most tireless advocates for women’s equality and justice under the law. May she rest in peace and may her legacy live on for generations and generations to come.” U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, who reprents the 19th Congressional District, posted on Facebook.
“She has been a constant beacon for all women in our fight for equality. This not only leaves huge shoes to fill, but a gaping hole in our judicial system. We now have an even harder fight in reclaiming our American democracy.” said Thearse McCalmon of Schenectady, the Democrat and Working Families state Senate candidate in the 49th Senate District.
The state’s two U.S. senators are likely to soon play significant roles it what will be an intensely fought debate over Ginsburg’s replacement, but Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said “the world has lost a giant,” and called her a personal inspiration.
“A brilliant jurist, a resolute champion for justice and a trailblazer for women’s rights, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left a legacy that will echo through history,” she said. “Justice Ginsburg will forever be a feminist icon who inspired generations of young women — myself included — to follow their dreams, break through barriers and never let gender stand in the way. She will be deeply missed and my prayers are with her family and friends.”