A tribute to US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is seen before the arrival of his casket in Washington, DC, on February 19, 2016 where it will lie in repose until his funeral at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on February 20. Scalia died on February 13 at the age of 79. / AFP / Nicholas Kamm (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo Credit: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Outside the Supreme Court today, thousands waited to pay their respects to the late Justice Scalia.

On the steps of the court, a makeshift memorial was formed. Flowers and candles were aplenty, but peppered throughout the memorial are large piles of fortune cookies, jars of applesauce and heads of broccoli.

These items might seem strange and even disrespectful at first glance, but they hold deep symbolic meaning, intended to honor some of the Justice's most famous arguments.

Why is there broccoli at Justice Scalia's memorial?


During the 2012 oral arguments over the constitutionality of Obamacare, Scalia used the vegetable to craft an argument as to how the Federal Government could essentially compel its citizenry to purchase any item it wanted under the logic of the individual mandate to buy insurance:

“Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.”

According to the New York Times, because of Scalia's argument, broccoli became “the defining symbol for what may be the most important Supreme Court ruling in decades.”

Why are fortune cookies being left at Justice Scalia's memorial?

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In his 2015 dissent of the Supreme Court's decision in favor of same-sex marriage, Scalia opened with a scathing line comparing the logic of the majority decision to that of the wisdom on the little piece of paper inside a fortune cookie:

“If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.”

Why is applesauce being left at Justice Scalia's memorial?


In his dissenting opinion in the 2015 Obamacare Supreme Court case, known as King v. Burwell, Scalia declared the majority decision to have the consistency of applesauce:

“The Court claims that the Act must equate federal and state establishment of Exchanges when it defines a qualified individual as someone who (among other things) lives in the 'State that established the Exchange. Otherwise, the Court says, there would be no qualified individuals on federal Exchanges, contradicting (for example) the provision requiring every Exchange to take the ‘interests of qualified individuals’ into account when selecting health plans...Pure applesauce.”

As Dan McLaughlin points out on Twitter, there is also significance to the Constitution left at the memorial.


Rest in Peace, Justice Scalia.

Editor's Note: This article was updated after publishing.

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