Following the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, his colleague Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has penned a fond farewell. Despite being polar opposites ideologically, the two justices were the closest of friends.
On Feb. 13, Scalia passed away from a reported heart attack. He had served on the U.S. Supreme Court since 1986, when he was appointed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. He was as a staunch conservative often reported for his fiery rhetoric.
Ginsburg was appointed to the highest court in the U.S. by President Bill Clinton. She has championed women’s rights and was the first justice to officiate a same-sex marriage. She and Scalia were at odds when it came to political beliefs.
However, they were close friends and confidantes, sharing family vacations across the world and bonding over opera music. In 2015, composer Derrick Wang even crafted an opera about their friendship titled “Scalia/Ginsburg,” according to CNN.
Paul Spera, Ginsburg’s grandson, recalled that the two justices would not talk shop during friendly gatherings.
“I never heard them talk about anything political or ideological, because there would be no point,” Spera told The Washington Post.
Even when they bitterly argued during court proceedings, their relationship remained amicable.
“If you can’t disagree ardently with your colleagues about some issues of law and yet personally still be friends, get another job, for Pete’s sake,” Scalia said of his bond with Ginsburg.
On Feb. 14, a day after Scalia’s passing, Ginsburg released reflections on her combative colleague and close friend’s impact on her and the Supreme Court, according to USA Today.
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.