NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer led a moment of silence for the late Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday at Yale Law School and later said the court will be a "grayer place" without him.
Like other justices, Breyer has avoided stepping into the political fight brewing over the court vacancy since Scalia died on Saturday in Texas at age 79. Breyer declined to comment when asked about Republicans saying they'll oppose Democratic President Barack Obama if he nominates anyone to succeed Scalia during his last year in the White House and during a presidential election.
Breyer was at Yale Law School to talk about how American judges must take more account of foreign events and laws, a theme he wrote about in a book released last year. Joining him on stage were Aharon Barak, former president of the Supreme Court of Israel, and Curtis Bradley, a professor of law and public policy studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Breyer, considered a liberal member of the U.S. Supreme Court, called Scalia, a conservative, a decent man with a brilliant legal mind.
"It's going to be a grayer place without him," Breyer said. "We're all sad."
Breyer was appointed to the high court in 1994 by Democratic President Bill Clinton. He taught law at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, also in Cambridge, and worked as a U.S. Department of Justice attorney before becoming a federal judge.
After Scalia's death, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told the White House not to even bother nominating a candidate to fill the court vacancy. McConnell and several Republicans up for re-election say voters in November's presidential election should have a say in the direction of the nation's highest court.
Obama has vowed to fulfill his responsibility of picking Scalia's successor and said he expects the Senate to vote on his nomination.