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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at 79

By Staff

 

Antonin ScaliaU.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the leading voice among conservatives on the high court, died at the age of 79, Feb. 13, according to reports.

Following Scalia’s passing, President Barack Obama has said he plans to announce a nominee to replace Scalia; however, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the nomination should wait until a new president comes into office next year, while Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid agreed with Obama’s decision.

President Obama has reportedly called Scalia “a towering legal figure, and stated, “There will be plenty of time for me to do so, and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They’re about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life.”

Scalia reportedly died during a visit to a Texas ranch, where he was found unresponsive after failing to show up to breakfast with a group of friends he’d been on a hunting trip with, Saturday morning.

U.S. Marshals were helping to arrange for Scalia’s body to be returned to his home in McLean, Virginia, over the weekend.

According to authorities, there was no foul play involved in his death. In addition, the family has requested that no autopsy be performed on the body.

Scalia was the first Italian-American to be appointed to the court by Ronald Reagan in 1986. He was best known for his belief that the court should follow the precise words of the Constitution, and not apply a modern interpretation to it.

Currently, without Scalia’s vote, should the remaining eight justices be split equally, with a 4-4 ruling in a case, the lower court’s opinion would stand, and there would be no precedent set by the higher court.

Scalia and his wife had nine children, and over 30 grandchildren.

“Both his admirers and his detractors agreed that Justice Scalia was one of the sharpest constitutional intellects to ever serve on the bench,” George H.W. Bush,  vice president at the time Scalia had been appointed to the court, said in a statement. “I considered him a personal hero, and Barbara and I were honored to call him a friend.”

Political pundits have reportedly said they expect discussion over Scalia’s replacement to emerge as a dominant theme in the upcoming presidential election.