Justice Antonin Scalia’s Funeral: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

justice antonin scalia funeral details

When is Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral? Can the public pay their respects while he’s lying in repose? (Getty)

Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday morning, and he will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Friday. Traditions surrounding a Supreme Court Justice’s funeral date all the way back to the 1870s. The public will be able to pay their respects to him at the Supreme Court on Friday.

Here’s what you need to know.


1. Scalia’s Funeral Will Take Place on Saturday Morning in Washington, D.C.

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Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral will be on Saturday. (Getty)

Scalia’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday morning, February 20, at 11 a.m. The funeral will take place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., family sources told NPR. The National Shrine is the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America. Details on whether the funeral will be livestreamed or broadcast live, and how to watch the funeral, will be added to this story as they become available.

Scalia joined the Supreme Court in 1986 and was the longest-serving justice, New York Daily News reported. He sat to the right of Chief Justice John Roberts.


2. He Will Lie in Repose at the Supreme Court on Friday, Where the Public Can Pay Their Respects

justice scalia repose

U.S. Supreme Court members (first row L-R) Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (back row L-R) Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel Alito and Associate Justice Elena Kagan pose for photographs in 2010. (Getty)

Scalia will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Friday, form 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. The public can pay respects during that time, after a private ceremony at 9:30 a.m., USA Today reported. Scalia’s Supreme Court bench and chair were draped in wool crepe today, a tradition that dates back to 1873. Black drapery also hangs over the courtroom doors:

You can watch the viewing ceremony live on C-SPAN or online at this link.


3. Supreme Court Justice Funerals Have Many Traditions Dating Back to the 1870s

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Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, and Clarence Thomas walk past the coffin of Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist in the Great Hall of the Supreme Court September 7, 2005 in Washington, DC. (Getty)

Many traditions surround a Supreme Court justice’s funeral, some dating all the way back to 1873 and the death of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, NPR reported. If tradition is followed, then Scalia’s casket, draped with the American flag, will be carried up the Court steps while justices stand on the steps in Scalia’s honor. The family decides who carries the casket and how long the body lies in repose.  When Chief Justice William Rehnquist passed away in 2005, his former clerks and Chief Justice John Roberts carried his casket up the steps.

The caskets are often placed on the Lincoln catafalque, a platform that was made in April 1865 to hold Lincoln’s casket. In 1999, former law clerks of Justice Harry Blackmun stood vigil while his body lay in repose there. The catafalque was also used for the ceremonies of Justices Rehnquist, Salmo Chase, Earl Warren, Thurgood Marshall, Warren Burger, and William Brennan.


4. Scalia Passed Away on a Hunting Trip at a Luxury Ranch in Texas

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Scalia passed away while on a hunting trip in Texas. His funeral is Saturday. (Getty)

Scalia, 79, was found dead at the Cibolo Creek Ranch near Marfa, Texas, on Saturday. He was there with family and friends for a hunting trip, and friends said he appeared jovial and animated the night before. The ranch owner said that he appeared to have passed away peacefully in his sleep. Other friends said that Scalia had mentioned he wasn’t feeling well. Bryan Garner, one of Scalia’s close friends, said Scalia seemed as strong as ever the last time he saw him and had only suffered a rotator cuff injury that would prevent him from playing tennis, Yahoo! reported.


5. Scalia’s Doctor Said He Had Heart Problems That Made Him Too Weak for Surgery

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Scalia’s doctor said he had heart problems, although friends said they had no idea anything was wrong. (Getty)

Scalia’s death has been the source of much controversy and rumor, both about the cause of his death and who will succeed him. Scalia’s death was unexpected and caught many people by surprise. Both Justice Cinderela Guevara, who pronounced Scalia’s cause of death, and his family have declined an autopsy. Guevara’s controversial decision was based on a conversation she had with the Sheriff, who said there were no signs of foul play, and a conversation she had with Scalia’s doctor.

Scalia’s doctor said he was suffering several chronic conditions and had visited with him a couple times before leaving for his trip. Guevara said the doctor told her Scalia had a history of heart trouble and high blood pressure, conditions that made him too weak for surgery on a shoulder injury, Yahoo! reported. Although Guevara didn’t see Scalia’s body, she concluded that he died of natural causes.

President Barack Obama has said that he will nominate a successor while he is still in office. Meanwhile, Republicans including Senate Majority Mitch McConnell are vowing to delay the nomination until after Obama’s term ends.