Rayman Solomon, dean emeritus at Rutgers Law School in Camden, had a story ready about the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia for a campus Federalist Society gathering Wednesday.

It was one Solomon said he had heard long ago from a mentor, when he was at the University of Chicago, where Scalia had taught.

According to Solomon, one day his mentor's son left his viola at Scalia's house. When the mentor called Scalia and asked him to bring the instrument to his campus office the following day, the future justice responded, "Absolutely not."

Puzzled, the mentor asked, "Why?" Scalia responded, "With my last name, if I'm seen on the South Side of Chicago with a violin case walking across campus, everyone will think the worst of me."

That kind of self-deprecating humor endeared the justice to many, Solomon said, even as he acquired a formidable reputation on the bench with his conservative judicial philosophy.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Kathryn Kovacs, who said she had often watched Scalia in action during her years as a lawyer with the Justice Department.

Kovacs, who teaches administrative law at the school, spoke of Scalia's warmth and ability to get laughs in the courtroom.

And while she disagreed with almost everything the justice decided, she acknowledged he was tremendously influential.

"No question that he was a real giant in a lot of ways," she said.

With a background in LGBT rights, Katie Eyer called Scalia's published opinions on that issue terrible. The justice most recently was in the minority in the court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

"They are not only terrible from the perspective that I disagree with them on the law, they are terrible from the perspective that I think they disrespect and disregard the fundamental humanity of LGBT people," she said.

But she noted that in one instance Scalia wrote in support of a gay soldier who was discharged even though the military knew he was gay when he enlisted. Scalia noted the effect discharging him likely had on his life.

Eyer, an associate professor, said she had thought about this a lot since the justice's death Saturday. She said it had become more pervasive for liberals and conservatives to assume what they think the other side is thinking, which Eyer said can only lead to a "sad state of affairs."

The Federalist Society is a nationwide network of right-leaning lawyers, judges, and law professors and students. During his time teaching at Chicago, Scalia served as the first faculty adviser for his school's branch.

"When it comes to true debate, both sides of an issue battling it out, I think the Federalist Society plays a crucial role," Carl Minniti, president of the student chapter at Rutgers-Camden, said afterward. "And I think that's something Justice Scalia really valued."

Minniti, who aims to graduate in 2017, said he organized Wednesday's event because he believes Scalia's death, and his replacement, will have a profound impact on the future of law in the United States.

"I really think this is going to be the most consequential event that's going to happen during our law school careers," he said.