Scalia remembered as man of faith, family and the law
WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was remembered Saturday as a man of faith, family and the law in a funeral marked by church ritual and pageantry for the conservative jurist whose larger-than-life personality dominated the high court for nearly three decades.
A who’s who of the nation’s political and legal elite was among more than 3,000 mourners at a funeral Mass for Scalia at the largest Catholic church in the United States. Vice President Joe Biden and 10 of the 11 living justices with whom Scalia served joined his wife of 55 years, their nine children and dozens of grandchildren on a balmy winter morning.
Scalia died unexpectedly last week at age 79 at a resort ranch in west Texas. He was the longest-serving among the current justices and the court’s most outspoken conservative.
His death has set off a tumultuous political fight over a replacement and is affecting the presidential campaign. One Republican candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, interrupted his campaign ahead of Saturday’s South Carolina primary to attend the Mass.
Scalia regarded the founding of the United States as “a blessing — a blessing quickly lost when faith is banned from the public square or when we refuse to bring it there,” his son said.
As a father, “he loved us and sought to show that love and sought to share the blessing of the faith he treasured,” he said.
The Catholic priest assured the many lawyers in the audience who may have felt the sting of Scalia’s barbed questions during Supreme Court arguments that he shared their pain. “The Roman collar was not a shield against his criticism,” Paul Scalia said.
The younger Scalia also honored his mother, Maureen, as “a woman who could match him at every step and could even hold him accountable.”
Among the other participants in the Mass was Justice Clarence Thomas, who also is Catholic. Thomas read a passage from the New Testament’s Book of Romans.
Scalia was known as a champion of originalism — interpreting the Constitution according to the meaning understood when it was adopted.
His flag-draped casket was brought to the church from the Supreme Court, where more than 6,000 visitors, including President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, paid their respects on Friday.
They wheeled the casket up the center aisle of the church past dignitaries including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, 95-year-old retired Justice John Paul Stevens and other federal judges. Among them were several mentioned as possible successors: Judges Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Millett and Chief Judge Merrick Garland, all of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
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