All over the world you’ll see unlikely pairings; an elephant that is best friends with a dog, or a horse that befriends a duck, or a tiger that loves his monkey. And then there’s Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the recently departed Justice Antonin Scalia. Two people who on paper should loathe one another, because quite frankly, they couldn’t be more opposite in political viewpoints. Ginsburg the liberal and Scalia the staunch conservative. Yet, they were close friends during their tenure together on the United States Supreme Court, and even before that as well.
As every Justice wrote a statement after the passing of Scalia, all very moving and paying tribute to the conservative, one stood out among all the others — Justice Ginsburg’s. As you read it, you can tell she was thinking back on memories of times they spent together and it is actually quite touching. She refers to their friendship as “best buddies.”
“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 opera she’s referring to “Scalia/Ginsburg” noted their relationship, and in the song “We are different, we are one” it shows that despite their differences in almost every way opinion-wise, they were still there together on the Supreme Court. Respecting one another’s opinions, albeit perhaps not agreeing. They were friends.
What Ginsburg’s statement shows is that despite all that may divide us, there is far more that can bring us together. We need to acknowledge these otherwise unlikely “best buddies” and respect their bond. She is undoubtedly very sad after his passing, and after reading her statement, you can’t help but look at Scalia in a different light than one may have originally perceived. This is a note from a friend to another friend after their passing, and it has to be appreciated.