As U.S. Supreme Court police officers carefully carried his flag-draped casket, Senior Associate Justice Antonin Scalia returned for the last time to the court where he served for nearly three decades with vigor and passion.
Ninety-eight Scalia clerks formed two lines down the steps to the front of the plaza to guide the man they affectionately called “Boss” to the Great Hall of the Supreme Court building.
Eleven former clerks from Scalia’s years in the high court and at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit served as honorary pallbearers, including Sixth Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton and former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement of Bancroft.
Waiting at the top of the high court steps, just inside the front doors, was Scalia’s son, the Rev. Paul Scalia.
Inside the Great Hall, a portrait of the late justice was ringed by red, white and blue floral arrangements sent by the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. The portrait by artist Nelson Shanks shows the justice seated in his robes next to his desk.
A framed wedding photograph of Maureen Scalia and a copy of The Federalist are at his right, along with Webster’s Dictionary (a reminder of his fidelity to the meaning of words), and an image of Sir Thomas More. In the background on the wall is a framed certificate from The American Catholic Historical Society.
All eight of the court’s sitting justices stood on one side of the Lincoln catafalque on which Scalia’s casket rested. The catafalque is on loan from Congress. All of the Scalia’s nine children, his widow and many of his grandchildren, who called their grandfather “Pop Pop,” were seated or stood opposite the justices. Maureen Scalia, the justice’s widow, stopped to look at the portrait of her husband before taking her seat next to his casket.
Scalia’s son Paul led those in attendance in a brief prayer, blessed the casket and then departed with the family.
After the ceremony, Supreme Court police officers, in dress uniforms, took their places at the head and foot of the casket. Four clerks, two on each side of the casket, prepared to stand the first vigil. Clerks will stand vigil in 30-minute segments throughout the public viewing, which is expected to end at 8 p.m. A nearly blocklong line of people had already formed by early morning.
The court’s employees, who stood patiently behind the portrait, for the justice’s arrival, were the first group to pay their respects after the current justices and family left the Great Hall.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. greeted President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on their arrival at the court Friday afternoon.
After paying their respects to the Scalia family in a private room, the Obamas entered the Great Hall, where they stood silently, heads bowed, behind Scalia’s coffin for about 30 seconds. They proceeded to the late justice’s portrait for a short appreciation before exiting.
A funeral mass will be held tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C.
Mike Sacks contributed to this report.