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Chief Justice John Roberts Eulogizes Antonin Scalia As 'Our Man For All Seasons'

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/02/2016 Cristian Farias
ATHENA IMAGE © Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court returned to the bench on Monday after a weekend of mourning and remembrance over the Feb. 13 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Before the court got down to business, Chief Justice John Roberts took a few moments to eulogize his departed colleague.

"We remember his incisive intellect, his agile wit and his captivating prose," Roberts said, reading from a prepared statement. "But we cannot forget his irrepressible spirit. He was our man for all seasons, and we shall miss him beyond measure."

It was the first time Roberts had spoken publicly about Scalia since the justice died, although he did issue a statement when the news broke.

As he began speaking, Roberts pointed to the ceremonial draping on and in front of Scalia's empty seat -- the traditional recognition for a justice who died while in active service.

After running through Scalia's biography, which included stints in legal academia and as a government lawyer, Roberts highlighted the "first and only Supreme Court case" that Scalia argued. As an attorney with the Department of Justice, Scalia represented the U.S. government in a case involving Cuban cigars.

"He prevailed, establishing a perfect record before the court," Roberts said to laughter from the audience.

The lawyers and public gathered for Monday's arguments -- in a government contracts dispute and a case dealing with the constitutional limits on police stops -- also laughed when Roberts made a whimsical observation about the late justice's record on the bench.

Scalia served on the Supreme Court for nearly 30 years and was the author of a whopping 282 majority opinions, Roberts reminded the audience. The chief added, "He was also known, on occasion, to dissent."

The whole memorial -- including condolences directed to Scalia's wife, Maureen, and the rest of his family -- lasted no more than two minutes.

"And now we turn to the business of the court," Roberts said.

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