Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Last Friday’s Supreme Court Memorial for Justice Scalia

I’m very pleased to report that last Friday’s Supreme Court memorial for Justice Scalia was a beautiful event.

Here is the video of the special meeting of the bar of the Supreme Court. The video includes excellent remarks by Kristin Linsley, Brad Clark, Paul Clement, and Jeff Sutton (providing, respectively, perspectives from private practice, academia, the Supreme Court bar, and the federal judiciary); by Paul Cappuccio as chairman of the meeting; and by Rachel Barkow moving for adoption of the proposed resolutions. (All six are former Scalia clerks.)

In the second part of the ceremony, acting Solicitor General Ian Gershengorn praised Justice Scalia as he presented the resolutions to the Court. An excerpt:

Today, the Bar of this Court convenes to pay respect to a towering figure in American law, a Justice of conviction, character, and courage, a treasured colleague, an irreplaceable mentor, and a man devoted to his country, its Constitution, and this Court. In his nearly 30-year tenure on this Court, Antonin Scalia displayed a forceful intellect, a remarkable wit, and an inimitable writing style. His ideas helped to shape the way we think about law. And for those blessed to know him, his compassion, humanity, and commitment to his family, friends, and faith will remain an inspiration.

In requesting that the Court accept the resolutions, Attorney General Loretta Lynch added her own generous comments, including:

The passing of Justice Scalia has left an enormous void in this courtroom and in the life of the law throughout the United States. With his razor-sharp brilliance and unmatched eloquence, Justice Scalia transformed the way the jurists and lawyers approach the law. He strode like a colossus through some of the most important opinions, concurrences, and dissents of our time, and he had a singular presence both in the courtroom and on the page. His penetrating questions at oral argument did not merely seek to clarify minor nuances; they cut to the heart of a position’s flaws. And his writing did not merely state the law, it captivated all who treasure memorable and radiant prose.

Chief Justice John Roberts culminated the ceremony with his very moving remarks, ending with:

Those of us on the Court will miss Nino, but we will continue to feel his presence throughout this building. Our ears will hear his voice in this courtroom when advocates invoke his words searching for powerful authority. Our minds will move to the measure of his reason in our chambers when we study his opinions. And our hearts will smile, even as our eyes glisten, when we walk the halls and recall how happy we were whenever we saw him rounding the corner.

(Read the transcript of the Court session, and listen to the 24-minute audio of the Court session.)  

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