By Jacob Fulton
The House of Representatives on Monday passed legislation to build statues honoring former Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the Capitol.
The bill, which was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent in Dec. 2021, now heads to President Joe Biden's desk. It was approved in the House by a 349-63 vote.
The legislation requires the statues to be erected within two years of its approval and placed in a "prominent location" on Capitol grounds. It also encourages the selection of underrepresented artists to create the works.
O'Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. She served for a quarter of a century until retiring in 2006 due to her husband's worsening health. In 2018, she announced that she had been diagnosed with the beginning stages of dementia “some time ago."
Ginsburg followed just over a decade later in 1993. A liberal judge appointed by President Bill Clinton, she remained on the Court until her death in Sept. 2020. She was the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.
O'Connor and Ginsburg were the first two women to serve on the highest court in the land, being followed by just three others so far: Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett.
A sixth may soon join their ranks after Ketanji Brown Jackson was nominated to the court in February. She is currently undergoing the confirmation process, with initial hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee concluding on March 24.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was among the Congressional Democrats that proposed the legislation. Since its proposal, she has reiterated the importance of honoring the women who blazed a trail for many to follow.
"The Capitol is our most recognizable symbol of democracy, a place where people from across our country have their voices represented and heard," Klobuchar said in a statement Monday. "It is only fitting that we honor their remarkable lives and service to our country by establishing statues in the Capitol."