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Hochul to honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with portrait at state capitol

The 2nd-floor location chosen for the portrait will place Justice Ginsburg at a level of the building where only men have been depicted to date.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Hochul announced plans Sunday to honor Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The governor said there will be an unveiling of a permanent portrait carving of the justice's likeness in the New York State Capitol in the spring.

"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,'" Governor Hochul said. "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."

According to the news release, 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 in the staircase gallery.  The second-floor location chosen will place Justice Ginsburg at a level of the building where only men have been depicted to date.   

"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," New York State Office of General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy said.

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 portrait will be carved in the same style as the existing 19th-century portraits carved in the staircase's Corsehill sandstone, according to the news release. 

The governor said the Ginsburg family approved a Meredith Bergmann's model of the proposed portrait and said Bergmann is the female 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.

There are currently six portraits of women carved on the Great Western Staircase, all below the second floor:

  • Molly Pitcher, Revolutionary War soldier
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin
  • Susan B. Anthony, suffragist leader
  • Clara Barton, Civil War nurse
  • Elmina P. Spencer, Civil War nurse
  • Frances E. Willard, temperance crusader



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