Rally held to honor late Supreme Court justice
GENEVA – Candles flickered as the light careened off facial masks with one message.
"Vote," some of them read.
Mourners of all ages gathered at the Kane County Courthouse on Third Street in Geneva on Saturday night to pay their respects and honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the United States Supreme Court Justice, who died at 87 following complications after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
A champion of civil rights, women's empowerment and perhaps the most prominent liberal voice among the justices for at least two decades, Ginsburg was appointed to the Court by former President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Several attendees lit candles. Some wore Lady Liberty crowns. Several speeches were given honoring Ginsburg and recounting the personal impact she had. The group was later ledáin a rendition of "Amazing Grace" and a moment of silence for reflection.
"Thank you all for coming here to honor and memorialize such an important [and] human being to our United States," Victoria Jozef, an Illinois-based attorney, who was among some of several speakers at the vigil. "As an attorney, she paved a path and broke ceilings; It made it easier to get to where I am today. I may not be defending people, I am a prosecutor for the state of Illinois. But, every time I do say: 'Victoria Jozef, for the people of the state of Illinois.'"
"I know who has come before me and who I have to keep fighting for," Jozef continued. "She started this fight; she continued to fight and we cannot let ourselves fall down. We have to pick ourselves up. We have to keep holding on to hope. And, we have to keep believing in the people. [And], we will be able to keep creating a country and a world that is better for everyone."
Julane Sullivan, an attendee from Batavia, proudly wore a green jacket with the painted words of "I care" on the back.
"What Ruth has meant to women's rights over the past how ever many decades has been extraordinary," Sullivan said on her inspiration for attending. "What a loss she is...in terms of equal rights and women's rights. I mean, the woman has just been a tremendous power for everything that we – that are here – stand for."
"I think it's everything about her [on a personal impact]," Sullivan continued. "How she conducted herself from day one; the quotes that she has said. How she went about leading...she led with a calm. She led by bringing people to her. She led by allowing people to come to agree with her. There wasn't this 'Oh, I'm going to shove this down your throat' kind of opinionated woman. It was this soft-spoken, but very intelligent and articulate woman that just did so much for human rights."
Ginsburg's death comes six weeks before the presidential election on Nov. 3, which will likely be a key contention and topic among voters. Several national political figures, including President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released statements honoring Ginsburg within the past 24 hours.
Trump and key figures within the GOP have since strongly signaled intentions of nominating and attempting to fill her now-vacant seat on the court, perhaps before the election itself. Trump told reporters Saturday his pick will "most likely" be a woman and it could be announced as early as next week.
The importance of voting, for seemingly many vigil attendees, appeared to be top of mind.
"I think it is imperative that we vote," said Sullivan, who said she will be voting Democratic. "Because the direction that the country is going in right now – what we have seen the past three and a half to four years – has just been so destructive. I mean, just bottom line destructive.. decisions that are being made are not in the best interest of everyone. There's a divisiveness that is just happening in our country. And, we''ve just got to pull that back together, and so, people have to get out and vote."
"Part of the reason I'm here...is when you feel helpless, there's always something you can do. This is only a little thing I can do, just to be here," Sullivan continued. "To share with whoever I can that this is important."