Scalia mourned by thousands at Supreme Court

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Supreme Court Justices, from left, Elena Kagan, Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy participate in prayers at a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court where late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lies in repose in Washington, February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/POOL - RTX27QG5

Supreme Court Justices, from left, Elena Kagan, Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Anthony Kennedy participate in prayers at a private ceremony in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court where late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia lies in repose in Washington, February 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jacquelyn Martin/POOL - RTX27QG5

The casket of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia arrives at the Supreme Court, where Scalia's body will lie in repose in the court's Great Hall in Washington on February 19, 2016, a day before his funeral service. Scalia died on February 13, 2016 at the age of 79. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

The casket of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia arrives at the Supreme Court in Washington on Feb. 19, 2016 to lie in repose in the court’s Great Hall a day before his funeral service. Scalia, 79, was found dead on Feb.13, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON  (RNS) Jordan and Julie Siverd admired Justice Antonin Scalia so much they drove 21 hours from Louisiana to pay their last respects.

With temperatures just above freezing, they were among the first of thousands forming the line on Friday (Feb. 19) that wrapped around the block of the Supreme Court.

The Siverds’ 5-year-old son Jacob snuggled inside his father’s coat as the pallbearers carried the justice’s flag-draped casket up the court steps and his parents talked about Scalia as a giant among jurists.

“The biblical and the constitutional owe a lot of debt to Scalia,” said Julie Siverd, a Presbyterian who attended a Christian seminary. Her husband, an attorney, added that the conservative Roman Catholic justice separated his legal opinions from his religious convictions.

Julie and Jordan Siverd and their son Jacob, 5, drove 21 hours from Mandeville, Louisiana, near New Orleans, and then waited in line outside the Supreme Court in freezing temperatures on Friday (Feb. 19) to pay their respects to Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died at 79. Scalia, in an American-flag draped coffin, lay in repose for nine hours in the court’s Great Hall for the public to pay its respects. RNS Photo by Lauren Markoe.

Julie and Jordan Siverd and their son Jacob, 5, drove 21 hours from Mandeville, La., near New Orleans, and then waited in line outside the Supreme Court in freezing temperatures on Feb. 19, 2016 to pay their respects to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died at 79. Scalia, in an American-flag draped coffin, lay in repose in the court’s Great Hall for the public to pay its respects. RNS Photo by Lauren Markoe

“I don’t think he felt he was pursuing any agenda other than the one that the people had written into the Constitution,” Jordan Siverd said.

Scalia’s body was discovered last Saturday at a luxury ranch in Texas where he went to hunt with friends. He served nearly 30 years on the court, arguing for a strict interpretation of the Constitution reflective of its framers’ intentions, a legal philosophy known as “originalism.”

Though accused by liberal critics of bringing his conservative approach to Catholicism to bear in his decisions — in his opinions against gay rights, for example — Scalia did sometimes sign on to rulings at odds with Catholic teachings. His legal opinions in support of the death penalty, for example, contravened Catholicism’s opposition to capital punishment.

On Friday, Scalia’s casket was carried through lines of former Supreme Court clerks in black suits, and met atop the Supreme Court steps by the eight surviving justices. Scalia’s widow Maureen was there with others in the Scalia family, including his son Paul Scalia, a Roman Catholic priest who said a prayer over the body.

After a private ceremony for the family and justices, ordinary citizens were allowed in to spend a few moments near the casket of the justice.

Ryan Shymanski, a Catholic Georgetown University student headed to law school, and admirer of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, waits on line with his friend, fellow Georgetown student Olivia Hinerfeld, to pay their respects to Scalia, whose bodylay in repose at the Supreme Court Friday (Feb. 19). RNS Photo by Lauren Markoe.

Ryan Shymansky, a Catholic Georgetown University student headed to law school, and admirer of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, waits in line with his friend, fellow Georgetown student Olivia Hinerfeld, to pay their respects to Scalia, whose body lay in repose at the Supreme Court Feb. 19, 2016. RNS Photo by Lauren Markoe

Ryan Shymansky, a Georgetown University government major and a Catholic, admired Scalia for being “a man of deep faith, deep conviction.

“But his jurisprudence was absolutely grounded in the Constitution and I don’t think anybody could ever argue that his Catholicism had any undue influence on what his positions were,” said Shymansky, 22, who is heading to law school in the fall.

Standing a short distance from Shymansky, a retired Orthodox Jewish couple from Columbia, Md., said they appreciated Scalia’s strong defense of religious freedom. A group of interns held a handmade sign, “Antonin Scalia is a hero.”

And then there were those who didn’t necessarily admire Scalia’s opinions — which also included a staunch opposition to affirmative action and support for gun rights — but came anyway.

“I don’t necessarily agree with his decisions,” said Marion Spann, a retired social studies teacher from Landover, Md. “He was  a Supreme Court justice, and I respect the position.”

Spann found himself standing in line next to another retired teacher, Rosalind Yee from Annapolis, Md., who spoke of her deep respect for Scalia’s ultra-conservatism and staunch religious devotion.

Marion Spann, left, and Rosalind Yee, both retired teachers from Maryland, met on line in near freezing temperatures to pay their respects to former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose body lay in repose Friday in the court’s Great Hall from 9:30 a.m. To 8 p.m. Spann said he didn’t necessarily agree with Scalia’s opinions, but respected his position. Yee said she admired Scalia as a conservative jurist and devout Catholic. RNS photo by Lauren Markoe.

Marion Spann, left, and Rosalind Yee, both retired teachers from Maryland, met in line in near freezing temperatures to pay their respects to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose body lay in repose Feb. 19, 2016 in the court’s Great Hall. Spann said he didn’t necessarily agree with Scalia’s opinions, but respected his position. Yee said she admired Scalia as a conservative jurist and devout Catholic. RNS photo by Lauren Markoe

“I admired the man,” said Yee, a Catholic. “He stuck to his guns.”

The last time a Supreme Court justice’s body lay in repose at the court was in 2005, after the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. As with Rehnquist’s and previous justices’ coffins, Scalia’s was placed on the Lincoln catafalque, a trapezoidal wooden platform constructed for President Abraham Lincoln, whose coffin rested on it in the U.S. Capitol when Lincoln’s body lay in state three days in April 1865.

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama were also expected to pay their respects to Scalia in the Supreme Court’s Great Hall Friday.

Scalia’s funeral will be held on Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The ornate Romanesque structure is 3.5 miles from the Supreme Court, adjacent to the Catholic University of America.

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill, both Catholics, will represent the White House at the funeral.

(Lauren Markoe is a national reporter for RNS)

  • William Bockstael

    -1

  • Fran

    Thankfully, death will soon become a thing of the past for man on earth due to the upcoming millennial rule of God’s kingdom or heavenly government by his son, Jesus (Isaiah 11:1-10; Rev. 21:3,4). Something everyone can look forward to!

  • yoh

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/laughingindisbelief/2016/02/judge-scalia-wanted-scotus-to-strike-down-the-13th-amendment/?ref_widget=related&ref_blog=laughingindisbelief&ref_post=hell-at-whole-foods&repeat=w3tc

    Justice Scalia Wanted to Repeal the 13th Amendment (the one banning slavery)
    “Justice Scalia had been working tirelessly behind the scenes to convince fellow justices that the Supreme Court has the power to strike down unconstitutional amendments. An anonymous source inside the court stated, “His chief argument was that the North rammed through this legislation when the South could not marshal an adequate rhetorical defense due to their defeat in the War of Northern Aggression. The only reason why it passed two-thirds of the state legislatures was that Georgians understood that they only way they could relieve themselves of the Northern occupiers was to vote in favor of prohibiting slavery.”

    Good Riddance!!!

  • yoh

    Just kidding 🙂

  • shawnie5

    LOL! Realized too late that you swallowed your own camp’s satire whole?