Senior U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly died in his sleep on Friday night after a day of quail hunting at a Texas ranch.
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.
Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.
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.
Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, of the Western Judicial District of Texas, was notified about the death from the U.S. Marshals Service.
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said he was among those notified about Scalia’s death.
“I was told it was this morning,” Biery said of Scalia’s death. “It happened on a ranch out near Marfa. As far as the details, I think it’s pretty vague right now as to how,” he said. “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.”
A federal official who wished to remain anonymous told MySanAntonio.com that there was no evidence of foul play and it appeared that Scalia died of natural causes.
Scalia, the longest-serving current member of the Supreme Court, was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement on Saturday saying Scalia was “a man of God, a patriot and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution.”
“He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution,” Abbott said. “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.”
Considered by many to be the most conservative member of the Supreme Court, his passing will likely set off a battle between President Obama and the Republican-majority Senate over his replacement. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) sent out a tweet via his spokesman this afternoon indicating that the Senate is not likely to confirm an Obama nominee:
What is less than zero? The chances of Obama successfully appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia?
— Conn Carroll (@conncarroll) February 13, 2016
Regardless of who replaces him, Scalia’s wit and passionate defense of the originalist interpretation of the Constitution will leave a huge void on the Court. He has left an indelible mark on our nation, often standing athwart history and shouting “stop” at the forces that fervently sought to unmoor us from our founding principals and our Constitution. May he rest in peace.