US Justice Ginsberg pays tribute to outgoing state Justice Abrahamson

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Photo Date: March 2011 / Photo: Steve Petteway / Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States / (MGN)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is paying homage to the longest-serving and first female Wisconsin Supreme Court justice.

Ginsburg appeared in a video tribute during Shirley Abrahamson's farewell ceremony Tuesday in the state Capitol rotunda. She called Abrahamson courageous and praised her for being mindful of people the law exists to serve.

She added that Abrahamson has "inspired legions" of women to pursue legal careers and to strive to improve equality and accessibility in the legal system.

The 85-year-old Abrahamson briefly addressed the crowd, stressing that an independent judiciary has never been important.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers appeared in person and choked up as he thanked Abrahamson for her service.

Former Gov. Jim Doyle and federal appellate Judge Diane Sykes were also scheduled to speak.

The Wisconsin State Bar Association along with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marquette University law schools organized the ceremony.

The 85-year-old Abrahamson is the longest-serving member in Wisconsin Supreme Court history and the first female justice. She has sat on the court since 1976 and served as chief justice from 1996 until 2015.

She announced in May 2018 that she wouldn't seek re-election and in August said she has cancer.