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S. 514: A bill to obtain and direct the placement in the Capitol or on the Capitol Grounds of a monument to honor Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


She would join other Supreme Court justices depicted as statues in the building, including Edward Douglass White.

Context

Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued six cases before the Supreme Court before being nominated as a justice herself by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Senate confirmed her 96–3 to become the nation’s second female justice in history, including an ‘aye’ vote from current Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Nicknamed “The Notorious R.B.G.,” she served for 27 years, achieving something of a cult following among the left. In perhaps the most famous case during her tenure, she was one of the four dissenting justices who sided with Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in the 2000 decision Bush v. Gore, which stopped the recount in Florida and essentially finalized Republican George W. Bush’s narrow lead.

Gsinburg’s September 2020 death under a Republican president and Republican Senate resulted in conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett filling the seat, likely for decades to come.

What the legislation does

New legislation would create a monument to Ruth Bader Ginsburg within the U.S. Capitol Building complex.

The legislation does not specify which type of monument would be established, nor where within the complex it would be located, nor the cost. Artwork at the Capitol Building complex honoring American figures include portraits, full-body statues, and busts of a person’s head.

The House version was introduced on March 1 as H.R. 1455, by Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL21). The Senate version was introduced the same day as S. 514, by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The legislation does not appear to have an official title.

What supporters say

Supporters argue that Ginsburg was a pioneer whose career as a lawyer, advocate, professor, and judge furthered causes from combatting gender discrimination to same-sex marriage to the environment.

“Justice Ginsburg was a trailblazer and inspiration who spent her career fighting for gender equality and standing up for women’s rights,” Rep. Frankel said in a press release. “A monument to her in our Capitol will allow future visitors to recognize and reflect upon her remarkable contributions.”

“Justice Ginsburg’s dedication to our country’s values and ideals is an example for every American,” Sen. Klobuchar said in a separate press release. “She was an icon and a trailblazer who dedicated her life to opening doors for women at a time when so many insisted on keeping them shut.”

What opponents say

Ginsburg caused her fair share of controversy during her lifetime.

In perhaps the most famous case during her tenure, she was one of the four dissenting justices who sided with Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore in the 2000 decision Bush v. Gore, which stopped the recount in Florida and essentially finalized Republican George W. Bush’s narrow lead. Many legal experts interpreted all nine justices as having sided with their personal partisan preference, rather than judging the case on its legal merits.

Ginsburg also violated Supreme Court precedent by openly speaking out about another presidential candidate years later. In 2016 she told the New York Times, “I can’t imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president,” adding that her late husband Marty would have said of Trump that there was still “time for us to move to New Zealand.” (Ginsburg later admitted the remarks were “ill-advised.”)

She also violated precedent by endorsing a then-pending Court nominee’s confirmation, saying in 2009 that she “cheered” Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination.

Odds of passage

The House version has attracted 17 cosponsors, all Democrats. It awaits a potential vote in the House Administration Committee.

The Senate version has attracted 15 cosponsors, all Democrats. It awaits a potential vote in the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which seems likely consider Sen. Klobuchar serves as the chair.

Last updated Mar 29, 2021. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 1, 2021.


This bill requires the Joint Committee on the Library to obtain, and the Architect of the Capitol to permanently install in the U.S. Capitol or on the U.S. Capitol Grounds, a monument honoring Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg.