SMU Professor Remembers Justice Scalia Fondly

- As a motorcade took the body of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, to the El Paso airport Sunday evening, an SMU professor is still trying to comprehend the death of his close personal friend, mentor and co-author of two books.

The world knew Scalia as a constitutionalist conservative judge, the same man Bryan Garner called Nino, Scalia’s family nickname.

“Three weeks ago this morning, we were right here in my library working on the second edition of "Reading Law” our second book,” said Garner.

A week ago Garner and Scalia spent time together lecturing and touring in Hong Kong.

"He was robust and, I thought, very strong. He had a great time in Asia and he did not tire at all easily,” said Garner.

Garner says Scalia was a fun-loving man with a powerfully magnetic personality who was sometimes misunderstood.

"When they would meet Justice Scalia, they were disarmed by how absolutely charming and wonderful and at ease and wonderful and tolerant he was of people of differing views," said Garner who also recalled some of Scalia’s favorite sayings.

“Whenever he would get slightly impatient with something he would use a Brooklynism and he would say "lookit, lookit.”

Garner says another favorite Scalia saying is nothing is easy. He strongly believed that nothing worthwhile in life is easily achieved.

Most of all, Garner says Scalia was a caring and compassionate man.

"He had nine children and his nine children were in all walks of life – in the military, in the priesthood, in law, they ran the gamut, an English professor. So he and his wife Maureen were very down to earth people, very grounded people. He was a man of great faith. He was an abiding Catholic,” said Garner.

“The other thing is he was not full of himself at all.”

Despite Garner and Scalia’s social differences, they shared a strong intellectual bond in interpreting the constitution – the way they believe the founding fathers intended.

Robert H. Jackson, he says, is Justice Scalia’s all-time favorite justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, who some thought could be too aggressive in his dissenting opinions.

“And Justice Scalia, I think you’d have to say, Justice Scalia is an equally bold stylist,” said Garner.

"Both Jackson and Scalia will go down in history as two of the greatest judicial writers the country has ever produced."

Garner says the two men also shared a love of language and a belief that worlds to have meanings.

"He believed in Democracy, government of the people by the people and for the people and not of the courts and by the courts,” said Garner.

"He was deeply committed to the principles upon which this republic was founded."

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