Thank you for reading The Marble Palace Blog, which I hope will inform and surprise you about the Supreme Court of the United States. My name is Tony Mauro. I’ve covered the Supreme Court since 1979 and for ALM since 2000. I semiretired in 2019, but I am still fascinated by the high court. I’ll welcome any tips or suggestions for topics to write about. You can reach me at [email protected]
On March 30 Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who rarely speaks before a camera, enthusiastically praised his late colleague Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“She modeled excellence in the craft over more than four decades on the bench,” Roberts said in a video. “Throughout, she inspired countless others to better understand our Constitution and to see opportunity and promise in our country.”
The occasion for Roberts’ praise was Ginsburg’s posthumous gift of the Great Americans Medal, the signature honor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. As chief justice, Roberts is the chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution. VIPs including Gloria Steinem, Billie Jean King, Bryan Stevenson, Tammy Duckworth, David Rubenstein and Oprah Winfrey also spoke about RBG at the event.
Ginsburg’s children, Jane and James Ginsburg, donated to the museum numerous objects from her chambers and her Watergate apartment. The artifacts included her judicial robe, her well-known “dissent collar” that she wore often at the court, her first RBG bobblehead, and a photo of a fan’s RBG tattoo.
The Smithsonian event was the latest—but not the last—sign that Ginsburg’s death in September 2020 still resounds in history and among her admirers, especially women.
On April 27 and 28, the Potomack Co., a top Washington-area auction house, in Alexandria, Virginia, will be selling items from Ginsburg’s modern, decorative and Native American art collection, as well as memorabilia and objects such as a Picasso ceramic. An Eleanor Davis caricature of Ginsburg (right) hung in the justice’s chambers. An online catalog will go live on April 12.
The proceeds will go to Ginsburg’s beloved Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center, with a small part of the commission going to female law students who want to pursue public interest positions.
“It’s all the doors that she opened” that makes her legacy so important and popular, said Elizabeth Haynie Wainstein, CEO of the Potomack Co. “How many people are known by their initials?”
In January, more than 1,000 books from Ginsburg’s private library were auctioned off by the Bonhams auction house in New York. All of her 162 lots sold for more than predicted. The auction brought in $2,354,510. Ginsburg’s heavily annotated copy of the 1957-58 Harvard Law Review, the year that she was a member, sold for $100,312.50. It had been guessed as selling for $2,500 to $3,500.
“Handling this library was a career-high moment for me,” Catherine Williamson, a Bonhams official, said after the auction ended. “It’s richly rewarding to see the larger community respond as enthusiastically to Justice Ginsburg as we at Bonhams did internally. Today it feels like a watershed moment for collectors of women’s history and I’m so proud to have been a part of it.”