Mourners gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington to commemorate late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly last week at 79. Justices, judges, congressional representatives, cabinet members, the vice president, and a presidential candidate were present to hear Paul Scalia, the late justice’s son, deliver Mass for his father.
“In the past week, many have recounted what Dad did for them,” Scalia said. “But here today we reflect what God did for Dad. How he blessed him!” He also mixed some humor into the service: “Sure he forgot our names at times or mixed them up, but there are nine of us.” Mostly though, Scalia focused on his father’s family life and faith rather than his time at the Supreme Court.
Scalia remembered how his father reacted when he suddenly found himself in his priest son’s confessional one Saturday: “As he put it later, ‘The heck if I’m confessing to you!” The reverend was hardly offended: “The feeling was mutual.”
Scalia’s son was not the only one who read at the service that took place in the country’s largest Roman Catholic church. Justice Clarence Thomas read a passage from the New Testament’s Book of Romans while the executive director of the Federalist Society, Leonardo Leo, read a passage from the Old Testament’s Book of Wisdom.
In addition to all eight sitting justices, several members of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, including Sri Srinivasan and Patricia Millett, widely seen as possible candidates to replace Scalia, were also present.
Scalia’s casket arrived at the basilica after laying in repose at the Supreme Court, where President Obama was among the 6,000 people who paid tribute to Scalia on Friday. Several Republicans have criticized Obama’s decision not to attend the funeral. Donald Trump took to Twitter to criticize the president: “I wonder if President Obama would have attended the funeral of Justice Scalia if it were held in a Mosque? Very sad that he did not go!”
After the Mass, family pallbearers carried the casket to a hearse for a private burial. Scalia’s family said a more secular memorial service for the late justice will be held on March 1 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington.