Antonin Scalia

By Ariane de Vogue and Eugene Scott, CNN
Saturday, February 20, 2016 | Updated 10:27 PM ET

Washington (CNN) — A somber reunion of legal luminaries came to Washington on Saturday to celebrate the life of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last week at age 79.

Scalia’s casket arrived at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington shortly after 11 a.m. ET. The late justice’s son, Paul Scalia, delivered Mass for his father.

“God blessed Dad, as it’s well known, with a love for his country,” Paul Scalia said, his voice occasionally quavering. “He knew well what a close-run thing the founding of our nation was. And he saw in that founding, as did the founders themselves, a blessing. A blessing quickly lost when faith is banned from the public square or when we refuse to bring it there.”

Scalia added, “He understood that there is no conflict between loving God and loving one’s country, between one’s faith and one’s public service. Dad understood that the deeper he went in his Catholic faith, the better a citizen and public servant he became.”

In the front section sat every sitting member of the current Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas a close friend of Scalia and a longtime conservative ally on the bench, participated in the service, reading from the book of Romans. The four other Catholic members of the bench — Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Sonia Sotomayor — were joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.

The last to arrive was Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a longtime family friend of Scalia, who once said they were an “odd couple” and he counted her as his “best buddy” on the bench. Retired Justices John Paul Stevens and Justice David Souter were there. Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was unable to attend.

In the front section sat Vice President Joe Biden, who served for years on the Senate Judiciary Committee chairing confirmation hearings of federal judges, and his wife, Jill. Former Vice President Dick Cheney — a friend and hunting companion of Scalia’s — also sat in the front section.

The incense-filled basilica hosted former clerks; Scalia had more than 100. As tradition holds, they stood vigil over the casket Friday and into the night at the Supreme Court.

One of the most prominent attendees was Paul Clement, a former clerk who served as solicitor general during George W. Bush’s presidency. Another former solicitor general, Ted Olson, who has argued several cases before the court including Bush v. Gore, was present.

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