Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg mourned the late Antonin Scalia, her ideological rival but best buddy on the court, in a statement Sunday that recalled an opera, Scalia/Ginsburg, based on the odd couple friendship between the conservative and liberal icons:
Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: "We are different, we are one," different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve. From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies.
We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation. Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots — the "applesauce" and "argle bargle"—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion.
He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh. The press referred to his 'energetic fervor, 'astringent intellect,' 'peppery prose,' 'acumen,' and 'affability,' all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader's grasp.
Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance.
He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.
The two buddies famously shared vacations, with their respective spouses in tow, prior to the death of Ginsburg's husband, New Year's celebrations and meals. Scalia was found dead of a heart attack Saturday. He was 79.
Other Supreme Court justices also weighed in Sunday.
Justice Stephen Breyer called Scalia "a legal titan."
"He shared with us, his colleagues, his enthusiasms, his humor, his mental agility, his seriousness of purpose," Breyer said. "We benefited greatly."
Scalia "left an indelible mark on our history," said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. "I will miss him and the dimming of his special light is a great loss for me."
"In every case, he gave it his all to get the broad principles and the small details right," Justice Clarence Thomas said. "It is hard to imagine the Court without my friend. I will miss him beyond all measure."
"He was a towering figure who will be remembered as one of the most important figures in the history of the Supreme Court and a scholar who deeply influenced our legal culture," Justice Samuel Alito said.