Metro

Baker, Catholics, Harvard dean mourn Justice Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (right) appeared at New England School of Law’s Law Day in March 2006.
Jay Connor for The Boston Globe/File
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (right) appeared at New England School of Law’s Law Day in March 2006.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the Harvard-educated conservative who died suddenly Saturday in West Texas, was remembered in Massachusetts as a respected and dedicated public servant.

“Justice Scalia will be remembered as one of the most influential jurists in American history,” Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow said in a statement posted Saturday night on the school’s website. “He changed how the Court approaches statutory interpretation, and in countless areas introduced new ways of thinking about the Constitution and the role of the Court that will remain important for years to come.”

Scalia, 79, graduated from Harvard Law School in 1960, and kept close ties to the institution, most recently serving as a judge in the Ames Moot Court Competition in 2014, the statement said.

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“At Harvard Law School we are deeply grateful that he returned so often to meet with our students, to judge our moot court competitions, and — as he so loved to do — joust with law professors and students alike,” Minow said.

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During the same visit, Scalia attended the inaugural session of a lecture series established in his honor by the school.

“We are so proud to host the annual Scalia lecture series, and we will honor his legacy in that way and others in the future,” Minow said.

Governor Charlie Baker issued a statement on behalf of himself and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

“Lieutenant Governor Polito and I join the Scalia family and the nation in mourning the loss of a dedicated public servant and the first Italian-American to serve on the nation’s highest court,” Baker said. “The justice’s intellect, wit and ability to get along with colleagues, despite philosophical differences, were respected by all.”

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Scalia, appointed by President Reagan in 1986, was the court’s longest-serving member. A devout Catholic, Scalia twice attended the Red Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross organized by the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Mass, held every October honoring the state’s lawyers, judges and other legal professionals, is timed to coincide with the start of the new Supreme Court session.

Scalia most recently attended in 2006, and was the featured speaker at a lunch that followed.

In a statement, the Guild called Scalia a Catholic who was “uncompromising in his convictions and in his faith.”

“He sought to protect the Constitutional rights of all citizens, including the unborn, and for his efforts we are forever grateful. He will be missed. May his soul rest in peace.”

Alexandra Koktsidis can be reached at alexandra.koktsidis@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @akoktsidis.