19 FEB 2016 AT 11:08 ET
Members of the U.S. Supreme Court paid their respects to their late colleague Antonin Scalia during a brief but somber ceremony at the court on Friday.
The eight remaining justices and members of the Scalia family gathered in the court’s Great Hall, where Scalia will lie in repose for the day. His funeral is on Saturday.
The casket, draped in a U.S. flag, was carried up the courthouse’s grand marble stairs and into the hall by Supreme Court police officers in ceremonial dress with a group of former Scalia law clerks in attendance.
Several of the justices, particularly Elena Kagan, a liberal who was known to go on hunting trips with the staunchly conservative Scalia, looked emotional as they stood in a row while the casket was placed on a raised bier in front of them. Chief Justice John Roberts, his hands clasped in front of him, bowed his head.
Father Paul Scalia, a Catholic priest who is one of Scalia’s nine children, delivered a prayer before the justices quietly filed away.
President Barack Obama is due to be among those paying respects later in the day, as will members of the public.
Scalia, appointed to the court by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1986, died at a Texas hunting resort at age 79. His family said he died of natural causes.
His death set the stage for a political showdown between the Democratic president and Republicans in the U.S. Senate who are threatening to block any nominee put forward by Obama to fill Scalia’s vacancy. The Senate must confirm any nominee. An Obama appointment could tilt the conservative-leaning court to the left for the first time in decades.
A large entourage of Scalia family members, including his widow, Maureen, attended the ceremony. A total of 98 former Scalia law clerks will take turns standing vigil during the day.
Obama will not attend Scalia’s funeral on Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, a decision that provoked criticism from some conservatives. Vice President Joe Biden would represent the Obama administration at the funeral.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham and Grant McCool).