U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been found dead at a luxury resort in west Texas, news outlets are reporting. The Justice apparently died of natural causes in his sleep after a day of quail hunting at Cibolo Creek Ranch near Marfa, Texas.
Scalia, 79, arrived at the ranch for a hunting trip on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people, the San Antonio Express News reported. Scalia did not show up for a scheduled breakfast. Staff members of the resort went to find the justice and instead found his body.
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery told the San Antonio newspaper 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 told the Express-News. “My reaction is it’s really unfortunate with any death. And now, politically, in the presidential cycle we’re in my educated guess is nothing will happen before the next president is elected.”
Justice Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in September 1986. He was considered to be one of the most conservative constitutionalists on the court by many.
Governor Greg Abbott responded to the death of the Supreme Court justice in a written statement obtained by Breitbart Texas:
“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.”
Justice Scalia was staying as a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in the Big Bend region of Texas just south of the town of Marfa.
In an article published by the University of Virginia School of Law, Scalia wrote that originalism is the best methodology for judging the law. “My burden is not to show that originalism is perfect, but that it beats the other alternatives, and that, believe me, is not difficult,” Scalia said.
An investigation into the death of Justice Scalia is being conducted by the U.S. Marshal Service, the sheriff’s office in Presidio County, Texas and the FBI. It appears there was no foul play apparent.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted that “Justice Scalia was a wise & strong proponent for the Constitution & American values.”
Justice Scalia was a wise voice & strong proponent for the Constitution & American values
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) February 13, 2016
U.S. Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz tweeted, “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.”
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 current GOP presidential front runner, Donald Trump tweeted, “The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive setback for the Conservative movement and our COUNTRY!”
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
The task to replace Scalia on the nation’s highest court will now fall on President Barack Obama. That appointment could drastically change the balance of power on the U.S. Supreme Court. The appointment must be approved by the U.S. Senate.
This article has been updated.