WASHINGTON (JTA) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote an impassioned tribute to Justice Antonin Scalia, her longtime ideological opposite and close friend who died over the weekend. Ginsburg, perhaps the Supreme Court’s most liberal justice, and Scalia, who with Clarence Thomas was its most conservative member, often clashed in tart dissents, depending on which side was prevailing in the opinion.
In a statement released to the media on Sunday, a day after Scalia, 79, died of a heart attack during a hunting trip in Texas, Ginsburg said his dissents helped sharpen her opinions, dating back to the 1980s when they served together on the U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. “From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies,” she wrote in her remembrance, which was posted by NBC on its website. “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.”
She said Scalia “nailed all the weak spots — the ‘applesauce’ and ‘argle bargle’ — and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion.”
Ginsburg, 82, framed her remembrance of Scalia by noting their shared passion for opera. “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,” she said. “He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.”