Scalia and Bader Ginsburg’s Friendship Bridged the Divide

PHOTO:Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg wait for the beginning of the taping of "The Kalb Report," April 17, 2014, at the National Press Club in Washington. PlayAlex Wong/Getty Images
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Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were on opposite ends of the legal spectrum, but the pair bridged the bench with their longtime friendship.

The conservative judge, who died Saturday from natural causes at age 79, and his liberal counterpart, 82, regularly wrote opposing decisions in some of the most high-profile cases of the past few decades, but that didn't stop the pair from becoming close friends.

Bonded by their New York City upbringing, Scalia and Ginsburg's friendship was so widely known that it became the basis of a comic opera, Scalia/Ginsburg. The production, which premiered at Virginia's Castleton Festival in July 2015, played upon their mutual appreciation for the art form, as well as their varying decisions.

PHOTO:Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Antonin Scalia, fourth and fifth from left, pose with members of Ariadne auf Naxos at the Washington opera, Jan. 8, 1994. The justices, both opera lovers, appeared as extras during the performance. Stephen R. Brown/AP Photo
PHOTO:Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Antonin Scalia, fourth and fifth from left, pose with members of "Ariadne auf Naxos" at the Washington opera, Jan. 8, 1994. The justices, both opera lovers, appeared as extras during the performance.

Ginsburg even cited the opera in the statement she released following the news of Scalia's death.

"Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: 'We are different, we are one,' different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve," Ginsburg said.

"It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend," she added.

PHOTO:Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia appear onstage during opening night of the Washington National Opera production of Ariadne Auf Naxos at The Kennedy Center Opera House, Oct. 2009, in Washington. Karin Cooper/Getty Images
PHOTO:Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia appear onstage during opening night of the Washington National Opera production of Ariadne Auf Naxos at The Kennedy Center Opera House, Oct. 2009, in Washington.

Ginsburg described she and Scalia as "best buddies," with their adventures expanding beyond the courtroom and the opera hall.

She reportedly kept a photo of she and Scalia riding an elephant during a trip to India in her chambers.

"That was a rather bumpy ride," Ginsburg said alongside Scalia at a talk at George Washington University in February 2015.

This image of Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Ginsburg riding a elephant in India in 1994 appears in the book, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States/Dey Street Books
This image of Justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Ginsburg riding a elephant in India in 1994 appears in the book, "Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg."

During that same talk, Scalia praised Ginsburg, with a speck of his legendary humor.

"You know, what's not to like," he said of his colleague. "Except her views on the law, of course."