Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead this morning, according to a close source to Scalia and a government official, both who wish to remain anonymous, CNN reports. It’s believed that Scalia, 79, apparently died in his sleep from natural causes during a quail hunting trip in West Texas.
According to MySanAntonio.Com, Scalia arrived at the luxury ranch on Friday for a private party. “When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.” From there, 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, they wrote.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement earlier today, calling Scalia “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,” he wrote.
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, who claims he was also notified, told the press that he doesn’t know all of the details, nor is he sure about what will happen to Scalia’s seat in the meantime.
“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,” he said.
Others however, including GOP Presidential candidate Ted Cruz, have noted that Scalia’s recent death has amplified the importance of this upcoming 2016 Presidential election, especially with the possibility of abortion rights, marriage equality, affirmative action and other critical issues being up for review by the justices.
Nominated by President Ronald Regan in 1986, Scalia has been one of the most controversial justices to sit on Supreme Court’s bench. During his nearly 30-year career on the highest court in the U.S., Scalia has made numerous statements and written dissents that have been interpreted as racist, sexist and homophobic in nature, the Guardian implies.
Most recently in response to the Abigail Fisher affirmative action suit against University of Texas-Austin, which made it’s way all the way to the Supreme Court, Scalia said that perhaps African-American students just weren’t smart enough to go to certain schools and should instead look for more remedial forms of education.
“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a less — a slower-track school where they do well” he said during oral arguments on the case.
More details coming soon as the story develops….