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The casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has arrived at the Supreme Court for the start of two days of public viewing. (Sept. 23)

AP Domestic

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump will join hundreds of mourners at the Supreme Court on Thursday to pay his respects to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon who died last week after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump are expected to make the trip from the White House to the Supreme Court, where the 87-year-old justice will lie in repose for a second day, even as Trump is preparing for a bruising confirmation fight over her successor. 

Hundreds of mourners filed past Ginsburg’s flag-draped coffin on Wednesday, including former President Bill Clinton, who appointed Ginsburg to the court in 1993, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who likely would have named Ginsburg’s successor had she won the presidency in 2016.

Earlier Wednesday, Ginsburg’s family, close friends, more than 100 former law clerks and colleagues on the high court gathered for one last goodbye as her coffin was carried up the stairs to the Supreme Court’s Great Hall, just outside the courtroom where she served for 27 years.

Ginsburg’s clerks, wearing black masks to guard against the coronavirus, stood socially distanced and in silence on the courthouse plaza in a show of solidarity.

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All eight sitting justices and some of their spouses attended a ceremony in which Chief Justice John Roberts lauded Ginsburg’s life as “one of the many versions of the American dream.” The daughter of a bookkeeper, she rose to the highest court in the land, writing 483 majority opinions, concurrences and dissents that “will steer the court for decades,” he said.

After the brief ceremony, Ginsburg’s casket was placed at the front portico of the court for two days of public viewing, with appropriate social distancing to guard against the pandemic that has claimed more than 200,000 lives.

The public will have the chance to pay their respects to the late justice from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. under the portico at the top of the courthouse steps.

Ginsburg’s coffin will be moved across the street to the U.S. Capitol on Friday, when she will become the first woman to lie in state since the honor initially was bestowed on Henry Clay in 1852.

A private interment service will be held next week at Arlington National Cemetery, where Ginsburg will be buried next to her late husband, Martin, who died in 2010.

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Trump’s visit to the Supreme Court comes as he is preparing to nominate Ginsburg’s successor, despite protests from Democrats that her replacement should be chosen by the next president. Senate Republicans are planning to move ahead with a confirmation hearing for Trump’s nominee over Democrats’ objections.

Trump has said he will announce his pick for the seat at 5 p.m. Saturday. The leading candidate is federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett of Indiana. Several other women, most notably federal appeals court Judge Barbara Lagoa of Florida, are said to be in contention.

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