Chief justice pays tribute to late Supreme Court colleague Scalia

Funeral Homily Given for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Funeral Homily Given for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

(Reuters) - U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday paid tribute to his late colleague Justice Antonin Scalia in brief remarks as the Supreme Court returned to the bench.

Roberts called Scalia "our man for all seasons" and said he and his colleagues "shall miss him beyond measure."

SEE ALSO: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas hasn't asked a question in a decade

The court was sitting for the first time since Scalia, 79, died on Feb. 13 at a Texas hunting resort. His chair, draped in black, was left empty as the eight remaining justices prepared to hear oral arguments in two cases.

RELATED GALLERY: See photos from his funeral

Scalia was a conservative mainstay who was known for posing tough questions to lawyers and for provoking laughter with his observations during oral arguments.

His death left the court with four conservatives and four liberals, and triggered a furious fight between President Barack Obama, who is set to name Scalia's successor, and Senate Republicans who have vowed to block any nominee from the Democratic president, with the court's balance of power at stake.

Court observers said Scalia could have represented the deciding vote in one of the two cases to be argued on Monday, involving the rights of criminal defendants.

More on AOL.com:
Woman brutally attacked by roommate found on Craigslist
'Jeopardy!' no longer takes Canadian contestants - But you're cool, Alex Trebek
Teenage boy charged in death of 10-year-old sister