Antonin Scalia, who had served on the U.S. Supreme Court since 1986, was found dead Saturday in West Texas. He was 79.
The Express-News said Scalia apparently died of natural causes.
“Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa,” the newspaper reported. “According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.”
Scalia, a Republican and staunch conservative, was appointed to the nation’s top court by former President Ronald Reagan. Here’s more from Biography.com:
As a Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia is considered one of the more prominent legal thinkers of his generation. It is also through his blunt (some would say scathing) dissents that he has earned a reputation as combative and insulting. And yet to many who know him personally, he is unpretentious, charming, and funny. One of his closest friends on the Supreme Court is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose political views are vastly different from his own.
Following Scalia’s death, Abbott released this statement, which was posted by the Express-News, KVIA and other news organizations:
Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution. His fierce loyalty to the Constitution set an unmatched example, not just for judges and lawyers, but for all Americans. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.
New Mexicans were sharing a mix of reactions to the controversial justice’s death.
“He had a great run, with some very passionate views. He was one of the most influential judges in the history of the Supreme Court,” said Ray Wilkinson of Albuquerque.
“I hope, despite his more recent judicial (?) decisions, he is able to rest in peace,” said Barbara Alvarez of Las Cruces.
“Love him or hate him, he was brilliant in so many ways, not the least of which was his command of prose,” said Daniel Macke of Rio Rancho.
The impact on the Supreme Court is certainly immense. The court is left with four justices appointed by Republican presidents and four appointed by Democratic presidents.
“President Obama could nominate a candidate to fill the vacancy, but winning confirmation by the Republican-controlled Senate in an election year would be difficult,” USA Today reported. “The opening undoubtedly will fuel at debate in the presidential campaign about the importance of choosing his successor on a closely divided court.”
This is a breaking news article and has been updated.