A breaking story by My San Antonio reported that Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, aged 79, was found dead at a West Texas ranch.
The report indicated that Scalia was a guest at Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa, where he had been staying since Friday.
According to the report, Scalia attended a private party with approximately 40 people on Friday evening. When he did not appear for breakfast the following morning, the ranch sent an associate to investigate Scalia’s room, where his body was found.
The report stated that the U.S. Marshal Service, the Presidio County sheriff, and the FBI were involved in the investigation. All of the agencies have declined to comment on the record, but a federal official, speaking on condition of anonymity, allegedly said that the death appears to be natural, and there was no evidence of foul play.
The Supreme Court of the United States official Twitter has indicated that they are attempting to confirm the reports.
Breaking: Local news carrying unconfirmed reports that Justice Scalia has passed away. We are attempting to confirm.— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) February 13, 2016
Justice Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986 by Ronald Reagan. He was known for his strict interpretation of the Constitution as it was originally written by the Framers, and he often clashed with the Liberal Justices who viewed the Constitution as a “living, breathing document” that was always evolving.
As a staunch supporter of Originalism, Scalia infuriated and frustrated those who believed in judicial activism and felt the Constitution should change as society changes. Yet, despite his fiercely conservative values, he was a close friend of Justice Ruth Ginsberg, who was, perhaps, the court’s most liberal Justice.
The process to appoint his successor is likely to be fraught with problems as President Obama is in his final year of office, and his relationship with Congress is quite contentious. The Senate will likely attempt to stall any appointment until after the 2016 presidential election.
The unexpected vacancy on the Supreme Court will also place enormous pressure on the Democrat and Republican hopefuls seeking their party’s nomination to run for president. Each candidate’s choice to replace Justice Scalia could make or break their campaign.
Scalia’s passing will change the political landscape in America for generations to come. Several Supreme Court Justices were already set to retire during the next president’s tenure, and the loss of a Republican Justice at this time in the election cycle will shift the entire balance of power.
Update no.1: A second source, KVIA, confirmed the story. According to a source close to Scalia, he was feeling unwell after the party and retired to his room, where he passed away in his sleep. An El Paso priest was apparently summoned to the scene.
Update no.2: A report from the Daily Mail includes a quote from U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, who claims to have been notified of Scalia’s death early Saturday morning.
“I was told it was this morning. It happened on a ranch out near Marfa. As far as the details, I think it’s pretty vague right now as to how.”
“My reaction is it’s very unfortunate. It’s unfortunate with any death, and politically in the presidential cycle we’re in, my educated guess is nothing will happen before the next president is elected.”
Update no.3: Wikipedia has flagged Justice Scalia’s page on the site as being “about a person who has recently died.”
Update no.4: Texas Governor Greg Abbott has released a statement on his official website that would seem to confirm the story.
“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.”
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]