Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is dead at 79 years old.
CNN reports that Scalia died while visiting Texas. He was found unresponsive after not getting up Saturday morning.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbot released a statement mourning the Justice’s passing, and said that Scalia was “a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law.”
Reaction from Scalia’s colleagues on the Court and politicians was swift. According to CNN, Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement that Scalia was “admired and treasured” by the other members of the Court. Roberts said the Court extends their “deepest condolences” to Scalia’s family.
Republican presidential candidates praised Scalia on social media. Donald Trump tweeted that his passing is a “massive setback for the Conservative movement.” Ted Cruz tweeted that Scalia was an “American hero,” and called for the Senate to ensure that “the next President names his replacement.”
Prominent Democrats also offered public condolences. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Twitter that though he and Scalia had “many differences,” he was a “brilliant man.” New York Senator Chuck Schumer tweeted that while he and Scalia “disagreed on many issues,” he was a “brilliant man” and a “great son of Queens.”
If President Obama nominates Scalia’s replacement and is able to secure confirmation from the U.S. Senate, the Court’s ideological make-up is likely to swing in favor of Democrats. Scalia had been one of five Justices on the Court appointed by Republican Presidents.
Scalia was nominated for the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan. He has served on the Court since 1986. No information on funeral arrangements was immediately available.
By James C. Thompson
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