Renowned legal scholar reacts to death of Justice Scalia

In this Oct. 20, 2015 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement lauding Scalia, 79, just as news of his death emerged publicly shortly before 5 p.m. CBS News confirmed Scalia’s death a short time later.

The U.S. Marshal’s Service in Washington confirmed Scalia’s death at a private residence in the Big Bend area of South Texas. News outlets in Texas reported that Scalia had been quail hunting on Friday.

Providence’s Steven Calabresi, a renowned scholar and professor at Brown, Northwestern and Yale, said he remembers Scalia fondly.

Eyewitness News Reporter Kim Kalunian spoke with him over the phone Saturday just after the news of Scalia’s death broke.

“I’m very, very sad about it,” he said. “I feel like I’ve lost a great friend and mentor. It reminds me of the day when my own father died.”

Calabresi said he met Scalia at a conference in 1982.

“Justice Scalia stood out the most as being really remarkable, funny, entertaining, brilliant and a great deal of fun to talk to,” he added.

Calabresi said he went on to clerk for Scalia for several years. He said he saw him last at an annual gather of the justices’ former clerks.

“I really think that, of the 115 or so people who have served on the Supreme Court, that he is really one of the two or three more important in American history,” he said. “He had just a huge impact on law and on many different people. And while he didn’t always prevail on various issues, I think he has fundamentally reshaped the whole conversation about law in the country. ”

See Kim’s full report in the video above. 

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