BYU law professor a part of services for Justice Scalia

Justice Scalia

(KUTV) As a nation pays tribute to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a local man reflects on the impact Scalia made on his life as he takes part in the special services.

BYU law professor John Fee says he worked as a clerk for Justice Scalia in 1996 and 1997 and was invited to attend the services that began Friday at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

"First we lined the courthouse steps and then the coffin arrived."

Fee described the procession that Scalia's family members and former law clerks/honorary pallbearers took part in Friday morning on the steps of the nation's highest court.

Inside the Great Hall of the courthouse a service was held by his son, Father Paul Scalia.

The late justice's body then would lie in repose, visited by thousands and watched over by his former law clerks - four at a time for half an hour shifts. Fee was one of them.

"It really was an honor to be there and see how many people - many of the public of all types - came through to pay their respects," Fee told 2News reporter Amy Nay via Skype Friday from his hotel room in Washington, "Some in tears, some take pictures, some cross their heart in a religious gesture... it was very solemn and very touching."

Despite his strong, often controversial opinions, Fee believes Justice Scalia will be remembered as one of the greats, "I can't help but have enormous respect for his philosophy of the law and his way of inspiring others to follow the law as opposed to simply make it up as they go."

He said he would hire staff who were up for a good debate, "One of the questions he'd asked when he's interviewing people for potential clerks, was which of my opinions do you disagree the most and he wanted to see how well you could answer that challenge."

Fee said Scalia loved life, appreciated the fiery rhetoric, but was always up for a few laughs.

"He used to make jokes about the number of kids that Mormons had and he, of course, has nine children!"

Fee says he believes Scalia always moved the conversation forward and has been impressed with the tribute that has only just started.

"I've never been to anything quite of this scale. Boy, it has really caused me to think a lot about the greatness of not only this man Justice Scalia - who influenced me and many others, but of our great institutions, of the Supreme Court, of this magnificent system of government that we had, of the influence that one person can have."

Justice Scalia's funeral will be held Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. Scalia's son will preside over the services.

Follow Amy Nay on Twitter @AmyNay2News for breaking news, updates and more.

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