Supreme Court Justice Scalia had respect of Brooklyn legal community
While the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s conservative outlook did not always sit well with many left-leaning Brooklynites, the local legal community saw Scalia as a justice with an exceptional legal mind.
Following the news that Scalia passed away this past Saturday of natural causes, Brooklyn Law School Dean Nicholas Allard noted that “Justice Scalia’s crackling intellect and pugnacious wit were on full display when he appeared before an enormous Brooklyn Law School audience in April, 2014. Whether you agreed with him or not, Antonin Scalia made an unforgettable impact. He was both an American original and the leading originalist.
“Whatever becomes of his theories and opinions, the legacy of this scholar, teacher [and] jurist will be long-lived,” Allard continued. “Our thoughts go out to his loving wife Maureen, his nine children and their entire large family.”
Scalia had many local roots. He grew up in the Elmhurst neighborhood of Queens, went to high school at Xavier in Manhattan and his father was once a professor at Brooklyn College. So it is no surprise that many locals considered him a friend.
“I lost a friend, a mentor, a counselor and someone who was basically that favorite ‘uncle’ many people have in their lives,” said Arthur Aidala, president of the Brooklyn Bar Association. “Of course, Justice Antonin Scalia was so much more than that to our country. But to me, he was just a really smart, fun, and, believe it or not, cool guy who I met when I was 23 years old and he was 55.”
Over the years, Aidala and his family became close with Scalia. They often shared dinners, and Aidala even visited Italy with the late justice and planned on having lunch with him this Tuesday in Washington, D.C.
“We drank wine, Campari, scotch and grappa together,” Aidala said. “We smoked cigars and watched baseball games together. We traveled in Italy together. We even marched in a parade together. I watched too many arguments in the court to count and he did me so many favors in terms of making public appearances for the many organizations I support.”
Scalia, who has Italian roots, was also largely well-respected by the Columbian Lawyers Association (CLA), which is a very strong group in Brooklyn.
“It is always a great loss for Italian-Americans when we lose [a] fellow Italian who represented us in the legal community with such great intellect and passion,” said RoseAnn C. Branda, president of the CLA of Brooklyn. “It will be difficult to replace him based on the qualities he was best known for: his work ethic, his dedication and his superior writing abilities.”
“Regardless of how you may feel about his politics, Justice Antonin Scalia’s life story made me proud to be Italian-American,” said Marianne Bertuna, president of the CLA, First Judicial Department. “I will remember the loving husband he was to Mrs. Scalia, the adoring grandfather he was to his grandchildren and the supportive father he was to his children. My heart goes out to his family.”
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