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U.S. Pays Respect To Blackmun

Former Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun is to be remembered Tuesday at a memorial service with eulogies to be given by his daughter, Nancy Blackmun, by three of Blackmun's former law clerks, and by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, his successor on the court.

Blackmun, author of the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, died Thursday at age 90. He served on the court for 24 years and retired in 1994.

On Monday, he became the fifth Supreme Court member to lie in repose in the court's marble Great Hall, following Chief Justices Earl Warren and Warren Burger and fellow justices Thurgood Marshall and William Brennan.

Dozens of family members, 88 former law clerks and seven of the court's current nine members gathered for a solemn 15-minute ceremony before members of the public were allowed to file past his coffin.

Blackmun's widow, Dottie, listened silently from her wheelchair, flanked by the couple's three daughters and five grandchildren, as violinist Robert McDuffie played the hymn How Great Thou Art.

Blackmun's casket, draped in the same 48-star flag that adorned his father's coffin, rested on the bier first used for Abraham Lincoln's funeral. Nearby, a 1978 portrait of the justice was on display.

During the court's morning session Monday, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist noted Blackmun's death "with sadness."

The chief justice said Blackmun's opinion in the Roe vs. Wade case "may have obscured many other important decisions he authored." Blackmun wrote more than 350 majority decisions for the court.

Blackmun once said he hoped he would be remembered "as a person of judicial integrity who wrote acceptably well and contributed in more than one field. I'd like to be known just as a good worker in the vineyard who held his own and contributed generally to the advancement of the law."