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Portrait Carving of Justice Ginsburg to be Added to NY State Capitol


Governor Kathy Hochul plans to honor Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and Brooklyn native Ruth Bader Ginsburg this spring with the unveiling of a permanent portrait carving of the justice’s likeness in the New York State Capitol.

Justice Ginsburg’s portrait will be the first new carving added to the Great Western Staircase since the completion of the staircase in 1898 and only the seventh woman depicted in the staircase gallery. The second-floor location chosen for the carving will place Justice Ginsburg at a level of the building where only men have been depicted to date. The location selected for Justice Ginsburg’s portrait is a blank expanse directly above John Jay, the U.S. Supreme Court’s first chief justice and the only Supreme Court justice whose portrait is carved on the Great Western Staircase. Justice Ginsburg’s likeness will be carved in the same style as the existing 19th-century portraits carved in the staircase’s Corsehill sandstone.

“When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked when there would be enough women on the U.S. Supreme Court, she famously replied ‘When there are nine,’. “By carving her portrait into the Capitol, we are both honoring Justice Ginsburg’s legacy as a trailblazer for justice and gender equality, and also celebrating New York’s history as the birthplace of the women’s rights movement.”

New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said, “Justice Ginsburg was an inspiring, remarkable jurist whose tireless fight for gender equity proved that ‘women belong in all places where decisions are being made’ and who followed her own philosophy to ‘leave tracks’ and make the world a better place for others. It is an honor for all of us at OGS to have a role in adding Justice Ginsburg’s likeness to the Great Western Staircase and become a part of the New York State Capitol’s storied history.”

Jane Ginsburg and Jim Ginsburg said, “My brother and I, and the entire Ginsburg family, are deeply moved that our mother’s home state of New York has honored her by placing her image in the magnificent Western Staircase. It is particularly fitting that she will appear close to John Jay, her great predecessor on the US Supreme Court, whom she admired.”

In November 2022, the Ginsburg family approved figurative sculptor Meredith Bergmann’s model of the proposed portrait carving. Bergmann is the female figurative artist who sculpted the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument in New York City’s Central Park, which features suffragists Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

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