News & Politics

The Supreme Court Has Draped RBG’s Chair in Black Cloth

The tradition goes back to the 19th century.

Photograph by Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The United States Supreme Court has draped Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s bench chair and bench in black wool crepe. The tradition goes back to the death of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, who died in 1873. The court also ordered flags to fly at half-mast for 30 days.

The court has not yet announced plans for Ginsburg to lie in state, but she’ll reportedly lie in state at the court for two days this week—longer than usual, because of the public outpouring of grief that followed her death Friday at the age of 87. There will also be a ceremony at the court, and a small funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, the New York Times reports.

Photograph by Evy Mages

The remaining eight justices paid tribute to Ginsburg with statements on Friday. President Trump said Monday that he plans to appoint her replacement by Friday or Saturday.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.