Justice Antonin Scalia’s casket was delivered to the Supreme Court on Friday morning in a solemn ceremony attended by scores of his former law clerks, his widow, Maureen, his nine children and a Supreme Court that lined up in its new order of seniority.
The court’s longest-serving justiced died Feb. 13 on a ranch he was visiting near Marfa, Tex. His body will lie in repose on the same catafalque used for the body of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, the court said.
“You have called your servant Antonin out of this world,” said Scalia’s son, Paul, a Catholic priest in Arlington. “May he rest in peace.”
The court’s Great Hall had been transformed, with potted palms, identical red-and-white flower arrangements from the House of Representatives and Senate and a large portrait of Scalia that had been completed in 2007 and had hung since then at Harvard University, where he attended law school.
All eight of the remaining justices lined up to receive Scalia’s body, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, now the longest-serving justice, at the right of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Also standing at attention were Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Sonia Sotomayor and a teary-eyed Elena Kagan.
Besides Maureen and Paul Scalia, the other family members sat on gold chairs near the wooden casket draped in an American flag: Ann Banaszewski, Eugene Scalia, John Scalia, Catherine Courtney, Mary Clare Murray, Matthew Scalia, Christoper Scalia and Margaret Bryce.
Scalia had 36 grandchildren, and they and other relatives filled the hall. Court clerks and other personnel filed through before the court opened to the public.
By 9:15 Friday morning, a line of eight Supreme Court police officers in white shirts and black pants assembled on the steps of the court waiting for Scalia’s hearse to arrive. A crowd of onlookers stood across the street, under a gray overcast sky and weak sun.
At 9:19 a.m., 98 former Scalia law clerks filed down the steps and formed a double line leading up the steps to the 16 columns at the front of the court building. Four of them will take 30-minute shifts standing at the corners of the casket until the viewing ends at 8 p.m.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are expected later in the day to pay their respects.
Earlier Friday morning, flags outside the court hung limp at half mast, as members of the National Clergy Council, wearing red sashes over their shoulders, waited for the hearse bearing Scalia’s body to arrive.
The Rev. Rob Schneck of the Evangelical Church Alliance said: “We all had a lot of contact with the justice. I knew him quite well, spent a lot of time with him here at the court over the last 15 years. So it’s a big loss. We had a wonderful rapport with him.”
Scalia’s casket will rest on the catafalque in the grand, columned hall that leads to the famous courtroom where he dominated oral arguments for almost 30 years.
The ornate hall is decorated with 12 chandeliers and busts of former chief justices. The catafalque has been loaned for the occasion by Congress. Scalia, 79, had been the current court’s longest-serving justice.
Outside the court, many who had traveled, in some cases overnight, waited to pay their respects.
Emily Weatherspoon and Hannah Moore, both 17-year-old seniors from Raleigh, N.C., were first in line waiting on East Capitol Street to enter the court and pay their respects. They said they were on a school trip to visit Washington.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the justice being carried into the Supreme Court,” Weatherspoon said. “President Obama is supposed to be by ,and we just think it’s an important part of our government system, and we are here to learn about government so we wanted to get the full experience.”
Moore said that before the trip, one of their teachers said they might be able to meet Scalia. “She said we were going to meet him,” Moore said. “She didn’t know he was going to be dead.”
Melissa Covey of Round Hill, Va., who works as a legal assistant with a firm, was third in line. “I so appreciate Justice Scalia,” she said. “He’s been a hero of mine on the Supreme Court. He’s a defender of the Constitution and the rule of law…very much my hero on the Supreme Court.”
Tenzin Tsultrin, 53, a property manager from Exeter, R.I., said he left his home at 11 p.m. Thursday and drove all night to be present Friday. He said he made the trip because “I love this nation, this country and the Constitution. And anybody who’s an ardent supporter of the Constitution is good for the country.”
Inside the Supreme Court, a large portrait of Scalia in his judicial robes by the late painter Nelson Shanks will be on display in the hall. A private ceremony there will take place at 9:30 a.m. The public is invited to pay respects from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Lincoln catafalque, a rough base of pine boards covered in black cloth, was built in 1865 to support the casket of the assassinated president as his body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. It has been used for other presidents and six other justices — Earl Warren in 1974, Thurgood Marshall in 1993, Warren Earl Burger in 1995, William J. Brennan Jr. in 1997, Harry A. Blackmun in 1999 and William H. Rehnquist in 2005, according to the Architect of the Capitol.
On Saturday, a funeral Mass for Scalia is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Ave., in Northeast Washington. The main celebrant at the Mass will be the Rev. Paul Scalia of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, one of the justice’s sons.
His burial will be private, the court said.
A native of Trenton, N.J., Antonin Scalia, whom friends knew as Nino, was the first Italian American on the court. He was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and he took his seat Sept. 26, 1986.
Scalia grew up in the New York City borough of Queens. His father, Salvatore, came through Ellis Island at 17. He learned English and became a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College.
Scalia’s mother, Catherine, was a second-generation Italian American and an elementary school teacher. Scalia was their only child and the only child of his generation on either side of the family.
In 1953, he graduated first in his class at Xavier, a military prep school in Manhattan, and won a naval ROTC scholarship but was turned down by his first choice of college, Princeton.
A devout Catholic, Scalia attended Georgetown University, where he was the valedictorian of the Class of 1957. In his graduation speech, he exhorted his fellow students: “If we will not be leaders of a real, a true, a Catholic intellectual life, no one will.”
Scalia’s old-line Catholicism was integral to his identity. He objected to the liberalization of the church that came with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, and he drove out of his way to find churches that still celebrated Mass in Latin, rather than newly allowed English.
Scalia attended Harvard Law School, where he was editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated magna cum laude in 1960. That same year, he married Maureen McCarthy, a Radcliffe student he had met on a blind date.
The couple eventually had nine children, and numerous members of the family are expected at the funeral services.
Scalia was an outspoken opponent of abortion, affirmative action and what he termed the “so-called homosexual agenda.” He was conservative, flamboyant and combative.
Yet, fellow justice Ginsburg said of him after he died: “He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.”
Staff writer Dana Hedgpeth contributed to this report.