Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Native Daughter of Brooklyn, to Get a Statue in Her Hometown


There are still people who remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg not just as a Supreme Court justice and champion of women’s rights, but as a Brooklyn native who grew up in Flatbush, attended the Hebrew school at the East Midwood Jewish Center and graduated from James Madison High School in 1950.

Now, nearly a month after her death, artists and city and state officials are seizing on ways to memorialize the Brooklyn roots that shaped her career.

On Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he had appointed a special commission to oversee the creation of a statue somewhere in Brooklyn.

The governor had already announced that the state would erect a statue, but the commission will now seek a location, design and will iron out other details. There is no timetable on when the commission is first expected to meet, according to a spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo.

A day before Mr. Cuomo announced the commission, officials at City Point, a residential and commercial development in Downtown Brooklyn, said a bronze statue of Justice Ginsburg would be unveiled there on March 15, on what would have been her 88th birthday.

Last month, the city renamed the Brooklyn Municipal Building for Justice Ginsburg. Mayor Bill de Blasio also said the city would start planning its own memorial, though his office said on Thursday that there was no update on that initiative.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg embodied a set of ideals often missing in today’s civic dialogue — she showed us reason, empathy and hope,’’ Mr. Cuomo said on Wednesday. “Her legacy as a jurist, professor, lawyer and scholar will endure for generations and we are honored to erect a permanent statue.

The state’s commission for the statue includes her daughter, Jane, two granddaughters, and friends and colleagues of the justice.

The news came as the Senate Judiciary Committee was holding conformation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a favorite among conservatives, to succeed Justice Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

The news of Justice Ginsburg’s death last month from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer hit New Yorkers particularly hard.

In New York, hundreds of people gathered outside the courthouse in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, holding candles and singing. In Midtown, an artist altered a subway mosaic at 50th Street to read “RUth St.” Signs across Brooklyn urged neighbors to honor her legacy by voting.

“No one can dispute the towering achievements of this judicial giant and the value of adding her likeness to the landscape of our city,” Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, said in a statement this week about the City Point statue.

Justice Ginsburg was born in Flatbush as Joan Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933, the daughter of Jewish immigrants. She lived on the first floor of a two-story house in the multiethnic Midwood neighborhood.

Her father owned small clothing stores. Her friends and family called her Kiki. She attended P.S. 238 and was the editor of the newspaper at James Madison High School. She would attend Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., where she studied government and met Martin D. Ginsburg, whom she married shortly after graduation.

Justice Ginsburg went to Harvard for law school but transferred to Columbia Law School after her husband got a job in New York. She was the first woman to become a tenured law professor at Columbia.

As director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1970s, Justice Ginsburg brought a series of cases before the Supreme Court that helped put into place constitutional protections against sex discrimination.

In 1993, she became the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and would become a cultural icon.





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