Early life and education
Antonin Scalia was born on March 11, 1936, in Trenton, New Jersey and was an only child. His father, Salvatore Eugene Scalia (1903–1986), an Italian immigrant from Sommatino, Sicily, graduated from Rutgers University and was a graduate student at Columbia University and clerk at the time of his son's birth. The elder Scalia would become a professor of Romance languages at Brooklyn College, where he was an adherent to the formalist New Criticism school of literary theory. His mother, Catherine Louise (née Panaro) Scalia (1905–1985), was born in Trenton to Italian immigrant parents and worked as an elementary school teacher.
In 1939, Scalia and his family moved to the Elmhurst section of Queens, New York, where he attended P.S. 13. After completing eighth grade in public school, he obtained an academic scholarship to Xavier High School, a Jesuit military school in Manhattan, where he graduated first in the class of 1953 and served as valedictorian. He later stated that he spent much of his time on schoolwork and admitted, "I was never cool". While a youth, he was also active as a Boy Scout and was part of the Scouts' national honor society, the Order of the Arrow.
Classmate and future New York State official William Stern remembered Scalia in his high school days:
"This kid was a conservative when he was 17 years old. An archconservative Catholic. He could have been a member of the Curia. He was the top student in the class. He was brilliant, way above everybody else."
In 1953, Scalia enrolled at Georgetown University, where he graduated valedictorian and summa cum laude in 1957 with a Bachelor of Arts in history. While in college, he was a champion collegiate debater in Georgetown's Philodemic Society and a critically praised thespian. He took his junior year abroad at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Scalia studied law at Harvard Law School, where he was a Notes Editor for the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude in 1960, becoming a Sheldon Fellow of Harvard University. The fellowship enabled him to travel in Europe during 1960 and 1961.