McKinnon was the long-running NBC sketch show’s go-to person to portray the Supreme Court justice prior to her death last month at age 87. Ginsburg died due to complications surrounding metastatic pancreatic cancer, prompting many people to revisit her long judicial career and pay tribute.
The show tapped the comedian to reprise the role one more time to honor Ginsburg during the premiere episode Saturday. At the conclusion of the “Weekend Update” segment, the camera turned to the audience where McKinnon was seated in her full RBG wardrobe, complete with a black robe, white lace collar and black glasses. She had no lines, opting to simply place a hand over her heart and nod directly to the camera as the audience applauded.
The subtle-yet-powerful moment ended with a title card before going to a commercial break that paid tribute to Ginsburg reading: “Rest In Power.”
McKinnon has portrayed Ginsburg several times during “Weekend Update” in the past, most recently during the show’s unprecedented, remotely produced episode in April, when she joined the hosts for a segment on how Ginsburg stays healthy and in shape while at home.
When news broke of the Supreme Court justice’s passing, McKinnon released a statement to Deadline reflecting on her time parodying her on “SNL.”
“For so many of us, Justice Ginsburg was a real-life superhero: a beacon of hope, a warrior for justice, a robed crusader who saved the day time and again,” McKinnon said in a statement.
Kate McKinnon paid tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the ‘Saturday Night Live’ Season 46 premiere.
“Playing her on ‘SNL’ was a profound joy because I could always feel the overwhelming love and gratitude that the audience had for her,” she continued. “It was one of the great honors of my life to meet Justice Ginsburg, to shake her hand, and to thank her for her lifetime of service to this country.”