Originally published by The Hill
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg welcomed a group of new U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony before the Constitution in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., on Friday.
“Today you join more than 20 million current citizens born in other lands who chose, as you have, to make the United States of America their home,” Ginsburg told the 31 newly sworn-in citizens from 26 different countries.
“We are a nation made strong by people like you, people who traveled long distances, overcame great obstacles and made tremendous sacrifices, all to provide a better life for themselves and their families,” she continued.
The ceremony took place in the Archive's rotunda, which is dimly lit to protect the fragile documents including the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The celebration marked the 227th ratification of the Bill of Rights.
Ginsburg said the nation’s founders established the government so that citizens would be the heart of America, “not it’s rulers.”
The Constitution at first allowed slavery and “severely limited” who counted among its opening lines of “We the People,” she continued.
“Yet we strive to realize the ideal to become a more perfect union. As well informed new citizens, you will play your part — a vital part in that endeavor — by first and foremost voting in elections,” the justice said.
Ginsburg’s own father arrived in the U.S. from Russia at age 13, speaking no English.
“A daughter and granddaughter of immigrants sits on the nation’s highest court,” she pointed out.
The justice asked what the crowd what the difference was between a “book keeper in New York City’s garment district and a Supreme Court Justice?”
“One generation,” Ginsburg responded. “My own life bears witness the differences of opportunities available to my mother and those afforded me.”
Ginsburg, 85, was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Clinton in 1993 and was the second female justice after Sandra Day O’Connor.
A new biopic about her life, “On the Basis of Sex,” premiered at the National Archives earlier this week.