AUGUSTA — At the steps of the Maine State House in Augusta, when darkness began to shroud the grassy courtyard Monday night, two 10-year-old girls described the legacy of the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“She fought for women’s and men’s rights, and we couldn’t really be able to do what we do now if it wasn’t for her,” Gabby Russell said.

Russell held a sign reading “When there are 9.”

Right next to her, Robin Asch’s sign read “VOTE.”

“She was a really important lawyer, she was on the Supreme Court and she was Jewish, just like me,” Asch said.

Ginsburg died Friday following 27 years on the Supreme Court. She was 87.


On Monday night, about 50 people gathered for a candlelight vigil at the State House in Augusta. Asch and Russell were among the youngest in attendance.

Rabbi Erica Asch of Temple Beth El in Augusta, the mother of Robin Asch, served the master of ceremonies for the vigil.

Speakers included state Sen. Shenna Bellows D-Manchester, executive director of The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine in Augusta; state Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth; Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties; and activist Betsy Sweet.

On Sunday night, vigils were held in Portland, Bangor and Bar Harbor. Augusta held a vigil for the second straight night.

In the days since Ginsburg’s death, President Donald Trump said he hopes to have Ginsburg’s successor in place before the Nov. 3 election.

Despite her party affiliation to the president, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins has said she opposes holding a vote prior to the Nov. 3 election. She said she does not support holding the nominee-review process until after the next president is elected.


Trump said he plans to announce his selection by week’s end.

“In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one,” Collins wrote in a statement Saturday. “The decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.”

This week, Ginsburg will be the first woman to lie in repose at the Supreme Court.

Erica Asch described Ginsburg as a “feminist icon” in her opening remarks.

Rabbi Erica Asch, right, and state Sen. Cathy Breen, D-Falmouth, speak Monday at the State House in Augusta during a memorial for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday. She was 87. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

“It’s about remembering Justice Ginsburg’s legacy,” Erica Asch said before the vigil. “This is a national period of mourning, and we are taking part in that here in our state.”

Most participants held candles, illuminating the courtyard steps and platform used as a stage. Masks were worn, with the exception of some of the speakers while making their remarks, and social distancing protocols were followed.


Bellows said she, like many others, was “devastated” when hearing of Ginsburg’s death. She turned to Ginsburg’s book, “My Own Words,” for inspiration and solace.

“Her words were her power,” Bellows said.

Breen made her remarks about Ginsburg’s penchant for defying the odds. Ginsburg, who was a teenager when she lost her mother to cancer, never conformed to gender stereotypes.

She had trouble finding a job despite finishing near the top of her class at Columbia Law School. Nonetheless, Ginsburg made it to the highest court in the land.

“She kept going, swimming against the popular tide,” Breen said.

Maloney remembered studying Ginsburg at Harvard Law School.

“We do not have an equal rights amendment, we have Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg,” Maloney said. “She is the reason that we have equal rights that we’ve been able to enjoy in this country.”

However, Maloney cautioned, there is still work to be done.

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