By Angelina Salcedo 2/13/16
Government sources and family members have confirmed that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday, at the age of 79, during a visit to Texas.
Scalia reportedly died in his sleep after he told friends he wasn’t feeling well and went to bed Friday night.
The group left for a hunting trip Saturday morning while Scalia never woke up for breakfast. He was found unresponsive later on in the day when someone on the ranch went to check on him.
Reasons for his death are yet to be confirmed, and the U.S. Marshals Service is arranging for his body to be returned.
Chief Justice John Roberts expressed condolences on behalf of himself and other justices.
“He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he loyally served,” said Roberts in a statement.
Scalia was a leading conservative voice on the high court and America’s first Italian-American justice. He entered public service in the 1970s as the assistant attorney general for President Richard Nixon and was named associate justice in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.
It will be a challenge to find Scalia’s successor. A Republican-controlled Senate will make it difficult to get a Democratic president’s nomination through. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, and his Democratic counterpart Harry Reid have already released statements addressing the issue.
McConnell has called for the spot to be filled after Obama’s presidency ends saying,
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Reid, on the other hand, says the seat should be filled “right away,”
“With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible,” Reid said in a statement. “It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”
Finding Scalia’s successor will likely impact the presidential race. Despite the fact that it’s an election year, President Obama will still nominate a replacement for the Justice.