Justice Ginsburg Law Clerks Serve as Her Pallbearers on Supreme Court Steps: 'A Life Well Lived'

"She was among the first mentors to tell me I could do anything — but she also told me that it would be foolish to think I could do many things well at the same time," said former clerk Lori Alvino McGill

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Photo: Alex Brandon/Getty

More than 100 former law clerks of the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lined up on the Supreme Court steps during a public viewing on Wednesday, providing a striking, visual reminder of the impact of the late liberal icon.

The clerks — most of them wearing black — stood in rows outside as a flag-draped casket carrying Ginsburg was brought up the steps, a moment that marked the beginning of a three-day public viewing.

In accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, the honorary pallbearers wore masks and stood at least six feet apart.

Some spoke to reporters about their time spent working with the late justice, who died last Friday from complications of metastatic cancer at the age of 87.

"The justice taught us all a thing or two about a life well lived," former clerk Lori Alvino McGill told CNN. "She was among the first mentors to tell me I could do anything — but she also told me that it would be foolish to think I could do many things well at the same time."

Paul Schiff Berman, a law clerk for Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the late 90s, recently recounted his time working with the late justice in a conversation with PEOPLE. When his former boss discovered he was dating a woman clerking in different chambers, she invited her to the office for tea, Berman recounted. The two were eventually married in a ceremony officiated by Ginsburg.

Ginsburg was hands-on in her approach to selecting clerks, once telling The National Constitution Center's Jeffrey Rosen that she selected one applicant based partly on his willingness to let his wife's career take precedence.

"My very first year on the court, I was served by a law clerk who had been with me on the D.C. circuit, and his application was tremendously attractive to me," she said in the 2018 conversation, released as part of the We The People podcast. "Why? Because he wrote that he was studying law at night, at Georgetown, and the reason was that his wife, an economist, had a good job at the World Bank."

"That, and one other thing," Ginsburg continued. "He submitted, as his writing sample, his first year of law school writing exercise and it was the theory of contract, as illustrated in Wagner's Ring Cycle."

According to the New York Times, Ginsburg hired more than 100 clerks over the course of her career — most of whom were in attendance at Wednesday's viewing.

In addition to law clerks, thousands of members of the public gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to begin paying their respects, some even waiting overnight to ensure they would be able to say goodbye in person.

Ginsburg was the 107th Justice of the United States Supreme Court, nominated as an associate justice by President Bill Clinton in August 1993. She will lie in repose at the Supreme Court building beginning Wednesday, before moving inside the U.S. Capitol on Friday, where she will become the first woman and first Jewish person in American history to receive the honor.

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