Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg paid tribute Sunday to Antonin Scalia, the colleague and unlikely friend who died a day earlier.
Ginsburg, who forged a close bond with Scalia despite their places on opposits sides of the ideological spectrum, called her friend “a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit.”
“We were best buddies,” she said of her colleague who died Saturday at 79, wryly adding that she disagreed with Scalia “now and then.”
Ginsburg said that Scalia “was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.”
She even cited a duet sung by the two justices in the 2015 opera “Scalia/Ginsburg” titled: “We are different, we are one.”
Ginsburg and Scalia, Ginsburg wrote, were “different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve.”
In a sign of their mutual affection, Ginsburg affected the tone of a review of their beloved opera in her tribute to Scalia:
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 famous friendship between the two judges has become a rallying cry of sorts for bipartisanship as Republicans and Democrats appear to be headed on an election year collision course over choosing a replacement for Scalia.
Former President Bill Clinton told CNN that Scalia’s bond with Ginsburg serves as a model for refusing to let ideological differences preclude civility or even friendship.