Classmates and professors recall Nino as exceptionally bright, diligent, and fun to be around. He loved to argue in an unassuming way, usually espousing a conservative view point. He made people laugh with his quick wit, they say, told good Italian jokes and played the bugle surprisingly well.
Many remember him as a standout in the Harvard Law School Class of 1960, even among an especially gifted class, which boasts such graduates as U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.), Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, three Harvard law school professors and Eighth Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Arnold.
Barring any unexpected change of events, the Harvard Law School Class of '60 will also be able to remember Nino as an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court.
Antonin "Nino" Scalia was named to the position Tuesday by President Reagan, following the surprise resignation of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger. Scalia, who has served on the U.S. Court of Appeals since 1982, must receive Senate confirmation before joining the nine-member Court.
Never 'Prickly or Dogmatic'
If approved, Scalia would join two other Harvard Law School graduates on the Court, Associate Justices Harry A. Blackmun '29 and William J. Brennan Jr., who graduated from the law school in '32 and '31, respectively. William H. Rehnquist, Reagan's nominee to replace Burger as Chief Justice, received a Masters degree from Harvard in 1950.
Scalia's former classmates, ranging across the political spectrum, collectively praise Reagan's selection of the conservative judge, citing the 50-year old's intellectual ability, diligence, integrity and open-mindedness.
Those favoring Reagan's conservative philosophy of greater judicial restraint say Scalia will be a scholarly and persuasive proponent of their cause. Although opposed to their classmate's judicial views, self-proclaimed liberals express relief that he was picked by Reagan.
In Good Company
"Of all the people that President Reagan could have chosen consistent with his judicial philosophy, Nino Scalia would be my favorite," says Harvard Professor of Law Philip B. Heyman, who served on the Law Review with Scalia in 1959-60.
"Given the premise that this administration is going to appoint a conservative Justice then I think this appointment is ideal," says Clark Byce, Royall Professor of Law Emeritus, who taught administrative law to Scalia. "I think everyone will get a fair shake from him."
Members of the Class of '60 recall Scalia at law school as being ideologically conservative, but not outstandingly so. He loved to argue with his classmates, they say, but was never "prickly or dogmatic."
"It was not easy to dissuade him from a position. But you felt you were in a discussion and he was listening," says Professor of Law Frank I. Michelman, who edited the "Notes" section of the Law Review with Scalia.
He is a "sound thinker who analyzes things thoroughly. His judgments clearly show the process of reasoning, there are no jumps there," says Richard M. Coleman, a classmate of Scalia's both as an undergraduate at Georgetown University and at Harvard Law School.
His law school contemporaries predict that Scalia's intelligence and sense of humor will endear him to the other Justices. "His brethren on the Supreme Court will absolutely love him," states John D. French, the Law Review president when Scalia worked on it. "Agree with him or not, he is an absolute joy to be with."