Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia left behind quite a legacy, not only from his court decisions but also a long line of family who loved him dearly. The Justice was married to his wife, Maureen, since 1960 when they met while he was a student at Harvard Law School. They had nine children and as many as 36 grandchildren (though some sources said 28). Many people will dearly miss Scalia.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Scalia and His Wife Met on a Blind Date and They Married That Same Year
While Scalia was in Harvard Law School, he and his wife, Maureen, met on a blind date in 1960. They were married later that same year at St. Pius X Church in Yarmouth, Massachusetts. Maureen is a Radcliffe English major and the daughter of an Irish-American doctor, The New Yorker reported. She volunteers at anti-abortion counseling centers, churches, and hospitals.
When asked on 60 Minutes why they had so many children, they responded with humor. Maureen said: “Someone said, ‘They are both overachievers.'” Scalia answered, “We didn’t set out to have nine children. We’re just old-fashioned Catholics, playing what used to be known as ‘Vatican Roulette.'”
2. They Have Five Sons and Four Daughters
The Scalias had nine children: five sons and four daughters. His children are Ann, Eugene, John, Catherine Courtney, Mary, Paul, Christopher, Matthew, and Margaret. They were all raised very conservatively in the Catholic faith and even weren’t allowed to wear jeans to school, Time reported. Over time, that particular rule eased up, but Scalia believed that it was important to have high standards, even if the world didn’t respect them.
His children attended local public school and every week they would all go to Sunday Mass. They drove an hour to downtown Washington D.C. each week to attend traditional services at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. This was important bonding time, since Scalia worked so many long hours that he couldn’t go to sports games or piano recitals, he told 60 Minutes.
According to Time, Scalia’s children have a variety of careers ranging from lawyers, a priest, an Army major, a poet, and stay-at-home parents. Eugene and John both work as lawyers in D.C. Christopher is a writer and PR professional who also worked as a professor.
3. One of Scalia’s Sons Delivered the Homily at His Funeral
One of Scalia’s sons, Paul Scalia, became a Catholic priest. He will deliver the homily and be the main celebrant at Scalia’s funeral on Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., CBS News reported. Paul grew up in the Diocese of Arlington and went to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Paul then studied in Rome. He served as parochial vicar at Saint Bernadette, Saint Patrick, and Saint Rita parishes. He was then pastor of Saint John the Beloved until 2012. In 2012, he was appointed the Bishop’s Delegate for Clergy. He also writes for the Arlington Catholic Herald and frequently speaks at the Institute of Catholic Culture in Front Royal. You can see one of his messages below:
To see videos from the funeral, including Paul Scalia’s homily, please visit this link.
4. Scalia Was an Only Child Whose Father Immigrated to the U.S. as a Teenager
Although Scalia had nine children, he was the only child of Salvatore Eugene Scalia and Catherine Scalia. In fact, his dad’s sister and his mom’s siblings didn’t have any children either, NPR reported.
Scalia’s dad was an Italian from Sommatino, Sicily who immigrated to the United States when he was 15, NPR reported. Salvatore learned English and earned a doctorate at Columbia University. He later became a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College, according to The New Yorker. Scalia said that his father “was a much more scholarly and intellectual person than I am.”
Scalia’s mother, Catherine Louise (Panaro) Scalia, was born to Italian immigrant parents and was an elementary school teacher. His parents raised Scalia in the Catholic faith. They both passed away about six months before he was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1986.
Scalia’s dad used to tell him: “Brains are like muscles — you can hire them by the hour. The only thing that’s not for sale is character.”
5. Scalia Has Somewhere Between 28 to 36 Grandchildren
The exact number of grandchildren that Scalia has is reported differently depending on which media source you read. The number typically ranges from 28 all the way up to 36. One of his grandchildren, Antonin, wrote a touching tribute to him on Facebook. He said, in part:
My grandfather was one of my heroes in life, and will remain as such. He was much more than a brilliant intellectual, he was a loving grandfather, someone whom I loved deeply. There are no words to adequately encapsulate the man that he was, nor accurately describe the profound impact that he has had on my life and the lives of others.”
It’s not surprising the number gets confused, since he has nine children. Scalia liked to brag about what a great job Maureen did raising the kids and attending all their events, since he had to work so frequently.