Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, was found dead at a luxury resort in West Texas on Saturday. The U.S. Marshals Service in Washington confirmed his death, reports the Associated Press.
The service’s spokeswoman, Donna Sellers, says Scalia had retired for the evening and was found dead Saturday morning when he did not appear for breakfast.
President Reagan nominated Scalia as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1986.
On the bench he was a conservative stalwart on an increasingly partisan Supreme Court, one for which 5-4 rulings have become quite common. Scalia disdained “activist” judges and was known for issuing blistering dissents that differed from his originalist view, which held that the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of what it meant to the Founding Fathers. His philosophy held that sweeping legal changes should be decided by legislative bodies, not the judicial branch.
Controversially, he consistently voted to limit the right to abortion, played a major role in in the case of Bush v. Gore that decided the 2000 election in favor of George W. Bush and voted against the majority in the Supreme Court’s 2015 case guaranteeing a right to same-sex marriage. He will likely be most remembered for writing the majority for District of Columbia v. Heller, which upheld the Second Amendment right of an individual to own a gun for personal use.
While loathed by many on the left, Scalia’s mind and wit held some bipartisan appeal. In 2008 presidential hopeful Barack Obama praised Scalia for his “intellectual brilliance.” And one of Scalia’s closest friends on the Supreme Court was liberal legal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Not surprisingly, Scalia’s death quickly became a campaign issue.
Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 13, 2016
The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive setback for the Conservative movement and our COUNTRY!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 13, 2016
Reports the Washington Times:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that the Senate should wait until a new president is elected to confirm a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, whose sudden death Saturday shook Washington and threatened to reshape the 2016 presidential race.
Democrats said that with 11 months left in Mr. Obama’s tenure, the Senate has enough time — and indeed an obligation — to confirm a replacement.
UPDATE: Democrats have begun to fundraise off Scalia’s death.
No doubt the acerbic Scalia would have found the immediate politicization of his death in poor taste.