POLITICS

Americans Say Goodbye To Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

The president and first lady were among those who paid their respects.

WASHINGTON -- The remaining eight justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, the president, other government officials and the public convened at the high court on Friday to say goodbye to the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

As law clerks present and past for the late justice stood watch by his casket in the center of the Great Hall, the public walked by it somberly. Some stood prayerfully and made the sign of the cross. Others snapped pictures on their smartphones -- of the casket and the ornate surroundings. Marble busts of prior chief justices looked on from the left and the right. 

The family of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia take their seats as Supreme Court justices stand for a private ceremo
The family of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia take their seats as Supreme Court justices stand for a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court on Friday. From back left are Counselor to the Chief Justice Jeffrey Minear and Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

The casket rested on the Lincoln catafalque, which was constructed for the casket of President Abraham Lincoln and has been used for presidents, Supreme Court justices and members of Congress since. 

Flower arrangements gifted by the House of Representatives and the Senate flanked a nearby image of Scalia -- an artist's rendering from 2007 in which the justice is seen in his judicial robe with his hand on a copy of The Federalist and a wedding portrait of his wife, Maureen, by his side. 

At the end of the hall, beyond the portrait and the procession, the door to the courtroom was open. Scalia's chair and place on the mahogany bench were draped in black.

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived at the Supreme Court sometime after 3 p.m. to pay their respects. Upon entering the Great Hall, they stood in silence before the casket for a few moments. They then made their way to the justice's portrait, where they exchanged some quiet banter.

During the Obamas' visit, the court went into a kind of lockdown mode -- no members of the public were allowed inside, and the line into the court ceased to move. A few people and reporters ran toward the court's north wing to try to catch a glimpse of the president's motorcade.

The court didn't say what other dignitaries or public figures might come. But a guestbook by the north entrance listed the signed names of Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and several federal judges, including U.S. Circuit Judge Sri Srinivasan -- one of the names being floated as a potential nominee to replace Scalia. 

The court will remain open until 8 p.m. for public visitors.

Earlier on Friday, Scalia's wife, court staff, clerks and former clerks to the justice stood outside the court as the casket arrived and was carried up the steps by Supreme Court police officers serving as pallbearers. 

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan stood solemnly in the Great Hall as Scalia's son, the Rev. Paul Scalia, offered a prayer. 

"You have called your servant Antonin out of this world," said Scalia, a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington. "May he rest in peace."

None of the justices spoke, but in an apparent nod to tradition and their departed colleague, they stood in order of seniority, the same way in which they sit on the bench for official court business.

A court spokesperson told The Huffington Post that, unlike prior ceremonies, the justices decided not to line up outside the court to receive the casket -- presumably due to the cold. They instead waited inside for the private ceremony.

Before the casket arrived and the court opened its doors, members of the public made a makeshift memorial outside, which included items Scalia mentioned for color in his effusive dissents in last year's same-sex marriage and Obamacare cases.

Scalia, a firebrand of legal conservatism and a controversial figure on and off the bench, died suddenly last week, causing a political maelstrom and casting into doubt the future of a number of high-stakes cases that could reshape the nation.

"He was an influential American," said Army Sgt. Major Michel Pigford, from Falls Church, Virginia, who was in line outside the court in full uniform and said he has served in the military for 28 years. "I may not share the views that he had, but he was important for America."

Bill Haybyrne, 73, wore a National Rifle Association jacket and said he attended the same New York high school as Scalia -- Xavier High School, a military school in Manhattan. He said the justice graduated six years ahead of him and with a higher rank than he did.

"He provided the balance that we've lost. We've lost our sense of the Constitution," Haybyrne said. He called the founding document "immutable," and said Scalia was right for choosing to interpret it strictly. If Americans wanted it to say something else, he said, Scalia would tell them to pass a constitutional amendment.

Farther back in the line was Nicole Poole, 23, an event planner from the D.C. area who said she is a "big fan" of the justice.

"I think he did a lot of good work protecting our constitutional rights and doing the work that needed to be done from the bench," she said. Asked what she thought of some of Scalia's more controversial opinions -- on issues such as race, abortion and gun rights -- Poole, who is black, didn't seem fazed by them.

"His No. 1 thing was the Constitution," she said.

C-SPAN carried a live broadcast of Friday's pomp and circumstance in and outside the court. The network will also broadcast a funeral mass for Scalia on Saturday from Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception -- the largest Roman Catholic sanctuary in America.

 
  • A mourner pays his respects in front of a portrait of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia during a private visitation in the
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    A mourner pays his respects in front of a portrait of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia during a private visitation in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2016.
  • A pallbearer holds his hands as he stands watch as members of the public pass through the Great Hall of the Supreme Court as
    Al Drago via Getty Images
    A pallbearer holds his hands as he stands watch as members of the public pass through the Great Hall of the Supreme Court as they pay their respects to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, in Washington on Feb. 19, 2016.
  • A woman cries as friends and staff of the Supreme Court attend a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court wher
    Pool via Getty Images
    A woman cries as friends and staff of the Supreme Court attend a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court where late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lay in repose on Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
  • People look at a portrait of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2016, as he lies in repose
    NICHOLAS KAMM via Getty Images
    People look at a portrait of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2016, as he lies in repose at the Supreme Court until his funeral at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Feb. 20.
  • The casket of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lies in repose in the Great Hall at the U.S. Supreme Court, Feb.
    Drew Angerer via Getty Images
    The casket of Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lies in repose in the Great Hall at the U.S. Supreme Court, Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
  • The family of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia take their seats as Supreme Court justices stand for a private ceremo
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    The family of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia take their seats as Supreme Court justices stand for a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court in Washington on Feb. 19, 2016. From back left are Counselor to the Chief Justice Jeffrey Minear and Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan, Samuel Alito, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, Chief Justice John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.
  • Staff of the Supreme Court attend a private visitation in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court where late Supreme Court Justic
    Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
    Staff of the Supreme Court attend a private visitation in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court where late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lies in repose in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 19, 2016.
  • The casket of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia is carried by U.S. Supreme Court police officers, at the Supreme Court buildin
    Mark Wilson via Getty Images
    The casket of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia is carried by U.S. Supreme Court police officers, at the Supreme Court building, Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington, D.C. Justice Scalia will lie in repose in the Great Hall, where visitors can pay their respects.
  • Supreme Court staff, clerks and former clerks line up on the plaza to await the arrival of Justice Antonin Scalia's casket.
    Cristian Farias/The Huffington Post
    Supreme Court staff, clerks and former clerks line up on the plaza to await the arrival of Justice Antonin Scalia's casket.
  • Law clerks line the stairs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in anticipation of the arrival of Associate Justice Antonin Sca
    Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
    Law clerks line the stairs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in anticipation of the arrival of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia's casket.
  • One hundred eighty law clerks line the stairs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as court police pallbearers carry Associate
    Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
    One hundred eighty law clerks line the stairs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as court police pallbearers carry Associate Justice Antonin Scalia's casket into the building.
  • Maureen Scalia, center, widow of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, waits on the portico of the court build
    Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
    Maureen Scalia, center, widow of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, waits on the portico of the court building to receive her husband's casket Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
  • Maureen Scalia, center, widow of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, is escorted by family members as she wa
    Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
    Maureen Scalia, center, widow of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, is escorted by family members as she walks out of the court building to receive her husband's casket Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
  • People hold signs of thanks and support while waiting in line to pay their respects to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice A
    Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
    People hold signs of thanks and support while waiting in line to pay their respects to U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia outside the court on Feb. 19, 2016, in Washington, D.C.
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