House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has never kept quiet about her distaste for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but an anecdote from an upcoming book reveals details of a disagreement over the placement of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s remains when they arrived on Capitol Hill for a memorial service.
Pelosi told USA Today’s Susan Page, in her upcoming book “Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power,” that the two disagreed about a proposal from Pelosi to have Ginsburg lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, which would have made her the first woman in history to be given such an honor.
Page writes that McConnell said no, and argued there was no precedent of a justice lying in state in the Rotunda, according to excerpts obtained by CNN.
McConnell reportedly noted that William Howard Taft had lain in state in 1930 when he had been the chief justice but said Taft was given the honor because he had also been president of the United States.
As the leaders of both chambers must agree to have a special service in the Rotunda, which is in the center of the Capitol, and not controlled by either leader, Ginsburg’s coffin was instead placed in Statuary Hall, which is on the House side of the building.
McConnell’s office did not respond immediately with a comment on the book’s description.
According to another excerpt, Pelosi says McConnell is “not a force for good in our country,” and adds, she calls him “Moscow Mitch” because she knows it bothers him.
“He is an enabler of some of the worst stuff, and an instigator of some of it on his own,” she said, according to an excerpt obtained by CNN.
Despite the placement of the memorial ceremony, Ginsburg did become the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state in the US Capitol, according to congressional historians.
Ginsburg joined Rosa Parks, John Lewis and Abraham Lincoln as those who lay in state or lay in honor at the Capitol.
Lying in state (for government official and military officers) and lying in honor (for private citizens) is when someone’s remains are placed in the US Capitol in Washington, DC, to allow the public to pay their respects. This tribute is considered one of the country’s highest honors.
There are no written rules on who may lie in state or honor. It is determined by the current House and Senate and then the honor must be accepted by the family of the deceased.