WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia liked to drive fast, maybe too fast. He was a stickler for precise language and pulled no punches in his writing. He was demanding as a father and boss, but he also liked to laugh.
Those were some of the memories shared Tuesday by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Clarence Thomas, some of Scalia's nine children and former law clerks at a memorial service for Scalia, who was found dead Feb. 13 at age 79.
Thomas, who sat next to Scalia during oral arguments at the court, said he will miss Scalia's under-his-breath commentary and lunches where he'd order anchovy pizza. When Scalia finished an opinion he was particularly pleased with he would say, "Clarence, you have got to hear this. This is really good," and then give a dramatic reading, Thomas said.
Thomas, who delivered a reading at Scalia's Feb. 20 funeral, said Scalia "worked hard to get things right," and that he cared about both broad principles and details like grammar and syntax.
"He was passionate about it all, and it was all important to him," Thomas said during the memorial at the Mayflower Hotel, which all eight justices and several hundred other people attended.
Thomas paused to collect himself at one point in his speech when he quoted from the eulogy for an influential pastor killed by the Nazi regime: "With him, a piece of my own life is carried to the grave."
Ginsburg, Scalia's ideological opposite on the court, remembered Scalia giving her a draft of a dissent she called a "zinger" and how her "final draft was much improved thanks to Justice Scalia's searing criticism." Ginsburg, who became friends with the conservative justice in the early 1980s when they served together as federal appeals court judges, said she will miss his "eminently quotable opinions" and acts of friendship, like bringing her roses on her birthday.
Scalia was no fan of eulogies, and his funeral Mass contained few stories about a larger-than-life personality who served on the court for nearly 30 years. Tuesday's memorial was a time for stories about the justice that were poignant or funny, or both.
His daughter Catherine Courtney remembered her father as someone who always made time for family dinners, was a poor estimator of travel time and commanded burgers to "be juicy" when he grilled. His daughter Mary Clare Murray said that the only way she or her siblings got out of attending church on Sunday was if they were sick and stayed in bed all day.
One of Scalia's former clerks, Joan Larsen, now a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, remembered Scalia singing in his chambers and whistling in the court's corridors. She said she was once scolded for citing the third edition of Webster's Dictionary; Scalia liked the second edition.
Larsen, who was one of the clerks who stood watch over Scalia's casket at the Supreme Court on the day before his funeral, said that clerks found that the most challenging thing to do while standing there and thinking about him was not to keep from crying but to keep from grinning.
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