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Friday, February 19, 2016
Mourners pay respects to Justice Scalia at Supreme Court
The flag-draped casket of Justice Antonin Scalia is lying in repose Friday at the Supreme Court where he spent nearly three decades as one of its most conservative and influential members.
Scalia’s casket arrived at the Supreme Court at 9:29 a.m., ahead of a private somber ceremony in the Great Hall.
Scalia's eight Supreme Court colleagues, his family and nearly 100 former law clerks watched solemnly as Supreme Court police placed the casket on a funeral bier first used after President Abraham Lincoln's assassination.
The Rev. Paul Scalia, the justice's son and a Catholic priest, said traditional prayers. "You have called your servant Antonin out of this world," he said. "May he rest in peace."
Scalia’s former law clerks will take turns standing vigil by their former boss throughout the day and night in a tradition most recently observed after the 2005 death of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.
The casket is being placed on the Lincoln Catafalque, which was loaned to the court by Congress for the ceremony, and a 2007 portrait of Scalia by Nelson Shanks will be displayed.
Before Scalia's body arrived, his former clerks formed two lines down the court steps and across its marble plaza. A few wiped away tears after the casket arrived.
The doors to the court chamber, where Scalia had served for nearly 30 years, were open at the east end of the hall. Black wool crepe hung over the entrance, and Scalia's courtroom chair was draped in black.
Scalia's casket will be on public view from 10:30 a.m. until 8 p.m.
President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama planned to pay their respects at the court on Friday, while Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden were to attend Scalia's funeral Mass on Saturday.
The funeral Mass open to family and friends will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Burial plans have not been released.
Scalia's sudden death complicated an already tumultuous election year. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a replacement should not be named until the next president takes office. Obama pledged to pick a replacement "in due time" and challenged Republicans to hold a vote on his nominee.
Scalia was found dead on Saturday in his room at a remote Texas hunting resort. The 79-year-old jurist was appointed to the court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.
He is survived by his wife, Maureen, nine children and 36 grandchildren.