Ruth Bader Ginsburg: What is the Lincoln catafalque that will hold her coffin at the Capitol

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg throughout the years

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg broke one more barrier Friday in Washington D.C. when she became the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol.

Ginsberg died last week after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 87.

Ginsberg will lie in state in the Capitol’s rotunda. The coffin containing Ginsberg’s remains will rest upon a catafalque, which is a stand constructed to hold a casket.

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The catafalque that will be used for Ginsburg’s coffin is the one that was hastily built to hold the casket of President Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in April 1865. The Lincoln catafalque (pronounced cat-a-falk) is a base of rough pine boards nailed together and covered with black cloth, according to the website of the Architect of the Capitol.

The catafalque measures 7 feet, 1 inch long, 2 feet, 6 inches wide and 2 feet high. The attached base is 8 feet, 10 inches long, 4 feet, 3½ inches wide and 2 inches high.

The Lincoln catafalque has been used for most memorial services in the Capitol. It was used in services for Rep. John Lewis in July.

While the remains of a woman have been placed in the Capitol before, civil rights activist Rosa Parks' casket was placed there in 2005, Ginsburg will be the first woman to lie in state at the Capitol.

Parks was lain in honor in the Capitol, an honor given to private citizens. Lying in state is reserved for high government officials

Here is a list of those whose bodies have rested on the Lincoln catafalque:

  • Abraham Lincoln (April 19–21, 1865)
  • Thaddeus Stevens (August 13–14, 1868)
  • Charles Sumner (March 13, 1874)
  • Henry Wilson (November 25–26, 1875)
  • James A. Garfield (September 21–23, 1881)
  • John Alexander Logan (December 30–31, 1886)
  • William McKinley (September 17, 1901)
  • Pierre Charles L’Enfant (April 28, 1909) reinterment
  • George Dewey (January 20, 1917)
  • Unknown Soldier of World War I (November 9–11, 1921)
  • Warren G. Harding (August 8, 1923)
  • William Howard Taft (March 11, 1930)
  • John Joseph Pershing (July 18–19, 1948)
  • Robert Alphonso Taft (August 2–3, 1953)
  • Unknown Soldiers of World War II and the Korean War (May 28–30, 1958)
  • John F. Kennedy (November 24–25, 1963)
  • Douglas MacArthur (April 8–9, 1964)
  • Herbert Hoover (October 23–25, 1964)
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower (March 30–31, 1969)
  • Everett McKinley Dirksen (September 9–10, 1969)
  • J. Edgar Hoover (May 3–4, 1972)
  • Lyndon B. Johnson (January 24–25, 1973)
  • Hubert Humphrey (January 14–15, 1978)
  • Unknown Soldier of Vietnam Era, later identified as Michael J. Blassie(May 25–28, 1984)
  • Claude Denson Pepper (June 1–2, 1989)
  • Ronald Reagan (June 9–11, 2004)
  • William Rehnquist (September 6–7, 2005)
  • Gerald Ford (December 30, 2006–January 2, 2007)
  • Robert C. Byrd (July 1, 2010)
  • Daniel Inouye (December 19–20, 2012)
  • Frank Lautenberg (June 6, 2013)
  • Antonin Scalia (February 19, 2016)
  • John McCain (August 31, 2018)
  • George H. W. Bush (December 3–5, 2018)
  • John Paul Stevens (July 22, 2019)
  • Elijah Cummings (October 25, 2019)
  • John Lewis (July 28, 2020)