Scalia Collaborator Bryan Garner Calls Him 'The Most Loyal Friend I've Ever Had'

A good friend and colleague of Justice Antonin Scalia said Sunday the conservative judge wouldn't have been surprised about the political firestorm over choosing his replacement that ensued almost immediately following his death.

"He knew that democracy involves a great deal of intense debate," said Bryan Garner, who was a longtime friend of Scalia and co-wrote two books with the late justice. "He understood the rough and tumble of the political process."

"He was the biggest defender, I think, I've ever known of democracy. He believed in government of the people, by the people and for the people. He did not believe in government of the courts and by the courts," Garner said on MSNBC Sunday, a day after Scalia was found dead at the age of 79.

"He had a firm belief that we should restrict the scope of judges in a democracy because judges are un-elected," echoed Scalia's former law clerk, Lawrence Lessig.

While Scalia employed "fire and passion" in his dissents, Garner said it wasn't to insert his political opinion, but rather because he considered some outcomes to be "departures from what Justice Scalia considered to be proper method of judging."

Scalia "liked to fight ... he liked to rib me, he liked to elbow me when we were working side by side," Garner said. But "he was wonderful to work with," he said.

"He was a man of great passion. He was a family man," Garner said, adding: "He was a loyal friend — I think the most loyal friend I've ever had."