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'There is still a fight’: Crowd gathers outside federal courthouse in Baltimore to honor the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Baltimore Women United helped organize a vigil outside the Edward A. Garmatz United States District Courthouse on Tuesday night to remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Attendees held lit candles, and cheered and clapped with enthusiasm throughout the vigil when speakers Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott talked about the general election this fall. Sept. 22, 2020
Baltimore Women United helped organize a vigil outside the Edward A. Garmatz United States District Courthouse on Tuesday night to remember Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Attendees held lit candles, and cheered and clapped with enthusiasm throughout the vigil when speakers Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott talked about the general election this fall. Sept. 22, 2020 (McKenna Oxenden/Baltimore Sun)

Last year, when Noa Klein paraded around the Supreme Court building in Washington dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she thought the justice was invincible. But on Tuesday night, the 10-year-old stood outside the Edward A. Garmatz United States District Courthouse in Baltimore with her mom to pay homage to Ginsburg.

“I was shocked by her death,” Klein said. “I never really imagined her dying. I always thought she’d be standing up for what’s right and I never thought I’d see her end.”

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Baltimore Women United helped organize a vigil and “call to action” to remember the late justice, and it drew more than 100 people.

Attendees held lit candles and cheered and clapped enthusiastically throughout the event as speakers, including an ACLU of Maryland representative, a Planned Parenthood official, a public defender, Democratic Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, and Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott, also a Democrat, talked about Ginsburg’s life and the November general election.

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Ginsburg died Friday of complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Her death just over six weeks before Election Day has set off a heated battle over whether Republican President Donald Trump should nominate, and the Republican-led Senate should confirm, her replacement, or whether the seat should remain vacant until the outcome of his race against Democrat Joe Biden is known.

Baltimore Women United helped organize the vigil and “call to action” to remember the late justice. It drew more than 100 people. Sept. 22, 2020
Baltimore Women United helped organize the vigil and “call to action” to remember the late justice. It drew more than 100 people. Sept. 22, 2020 (McKenna Oxenden/Baltimore Sun)

Speakers remembered Ginsburg’s legacy, highlighting her accomplishments, including her fights for gender equality and equal pay, and emphasized the importance of voting this fall.

Van Hollen said he had the honor of meeting the justice several times and said, “If I know one thing about Justice Ginsburg, she’d like us to go light on the vigil portion and heavy on the call to action.”

The senator spoke for several minutes, focusing on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and how, within hours of the justice’s death, McConnell said the Senate will vote on Trump’s pick to replace Ginsburg, even though the election is just months away.

“We need to make sure these Republican senators will be held accountable,” Van Hollen said. “We are going to do everything we can to stop the abuse of power, but we need everyone here to help.”

Cardin said the justice stood up for what she believed in and urged the crowd that the Senate needs to listen to her last words: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Said Cardin: “This is a consequential lifetime appointment and that’s why we’re saying to Sen. McConnell to follow what’s right,” Cardin said. “Let us carry out her wish, carry out her legacy and carry out the task.”

Scott, who is his party’s nominee for mayor of Baltimore, reinforced the need for people to come together to help elect Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden because the country is “under attack.” As the election draws closer, Scott said, he keeps thinking about his grandparents and the discrimination they faced in the South during the battle to integrate schools.

“That’s the kind of world [Republicans] want to bring back,” Scott said. “And that’s not the world we want to live in.”

Klein and her mom, Sharon Green, said they drove from Pikesville after hearing about the vigil from friends who helped organize it. Green, 41, called Ginsburg’s death a “punch to the gut” but said she felt gratitude that Ginsburg lived as long as she did and was able to leave a lasting impact.

Standing by her mom’s side, Klein said she learned about Ginsburg in school and when she presented an oral history project on the justice. When her mom asked whether she wanted to attend Tuesday night, Klein said she knew she had to do something to honor the justice’s legacy because she didn’t want her — or her actions — to be forgotten.

“All people deserve rights and right now some people are being discriminated against,” the girl said. “Bystanders can help and stand up for what is right because there is still a fight.”

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