Scalia Mourned as Late U.S. Justice's Funeral Draws Crowds

  • Son Paul presides at mass in largest U.S. Catholic church
  • All eight remaining justices, Biden are among mourners

Maureen McCarthy Scalia walks behind the casket as it is led out of church follwing the funeral Mass for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Feb. 20, 2016 in Washington.

Photographer: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

Thousands of mourners gathered for the funeral of Antonin Scalia, the U.S. Supreme Court justice whose conservative views and outspoken nature made him one of the country’s most recognizable and controversial legal figures.

Scalia’s son Paul, a priest, presided over Saturday’s mass in Washington at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the country’s largest Roman Catholic church. “He understood that there is no conflict between loving one’s God and loving one’s country, between faith and public service,” Paul Scalia said of his father.

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The eight remaining members of the court attended the funeral, along with retired Justices John Paul Stevens and David Souter and Vice President Joe Biden. Justice Clarence Thomas delivered one of the Bible readings. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, welcomed the congregation to what he joked was a “simple parish family mass.”

Scalia died at a West Texas ranch Feb. 13 at age 79, leaving behind his wife Maureen, nine children and 36 grandchildren.

Scalia’s son Christopher eulogized his father in the Washington Post this week, describing a man who would tease his children when they said “um” and dispute calls during “the Scalia Bowl,” as the family called its Thanksgiving touch football game.

“Even when dinner conversation proceeded ‘um’-free, it could still descend into another of Dad’s favorite pastimes: crumpling his napkin into a ball and throwing it into one of our glasses,” Christopher Scalia wrote. “Counterattacks were futile, equipped as he was with a narrow wine glass.”

On Friday, President Barack Obama and thousands of other mourners paid their respects as Scalia’s flag-draped casket lay in repose in the Supreme Court’s ceremonial hallway. In a somber morning ceremony, his tearful former colleagues stood in their new seating order as pallbearers brought the casket into the marble building. Almost 100 of Scalia’s former law clerks attended the ceremony at the court, and they took turns standing watch over the casket throughout the day and night.

Scalia served for almost three decades on the nation’s highest court, making his mark by advocating an “originalist” approach to the constitution that limited protections to those specifically laid out in the document. He was known for his bluntness, wit and sarcasm, both in his opinions and in public appearances.

His unexpected death leaves a vacancy on the court that’s generated political controversy during a U.S. presidential election year. Senate Republicans are aiming to stop Obama from filling the seat before he leaves office in January.

The burial will be private, and the Supreme Court hasn’t released details.

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