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Private ceremony held for Scalia at Supreme Court Great Hall

The eight remaining Supreme Court justices paid their respects to Scalia before his funeral Saturday
The casket of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is brought in for a privaReuters

Members of the U.S.SupremeCourtpaid theirrespectsto their late colleague AntoninScaliaduring a brief but somber ceremony at thecourton Friday.

The eight remainingjusticesand members of theScaliafamily gathered in thecourt's Great Hall, whereScaliawill lie in repose for the day. His funeral is on Saturday.

The casket, draped in a U.S. flag, was carried up thecourthouse's grand marble stairs and into the hall bySupremeCourtpolice officers in ceremonial dress with a group of formerScalialaw clerks in attendance.

Several of thejustices, particularly Elena Kagan, a liberal who was known to go on hunting trips with the staunchly conservativeScalia, 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.

RELATED: Justice Scalia: Outspoken conservative stalwart

Father PaulScalia, a Catholic priest who is one ofScalia's nine children, delivered a prayer before thejusticesquietly filed away.

President Barack Obama is due to be among thosepayingrespectslater in the day, as will members of the public.

Scalia, appointed to thecourtby 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 fillScalia's vacancy. The Senate must confirm any nominee. An Obama appointment could tilt the conservative-leaningcourtto the left for the first time in decades.

A large entourage ofScaliafamily members, including his widow, Maureen, attended the ceremony. A total of 98 formerScalialaw clerks will take turns standing vigil during the day.

Obama will not attendScalia'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.

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