Conspiracy theories are beginning to swirl in the aftermath of the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was found dead at 79 in his room on Saturday morning at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas.
While Scalia was pronounced dead “of natural causes”–or, alternatively, of a heart attack–no qualified official had actually examined his body, and there was no autopsy performed, apparently in deference to the wishes of his family.
John Poindexter, the owner of the ranch, provided more bait for speculation with an awkward description of how Scalia was found: “We discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled.”
Presidio County Judge Cinderella Guevara said that there had been “no foul play,” according to the Washington Post–but she had “pronounced Scalia dead of natural causes without seeing the body — which is permissible under Texas law — and without ordering an autopsy.” It had taken “hours” for authorities to find the judge at all.
Conspiracy sites and social media have lit up with suggestions that Scalia may have been eliminated to ensure a 5-4 liberal majority before President Barack Obama leaves office. Of course, those theories cannot explain why, if the president had wanted Scalia (or another conservative jurist) dead, he would have waited past so many big decisions.
More serious questions will focus on the medical care Scalia received last week. He apparently visited his doctor on Wednesday and Thursday, but chose to travel anyway over the weekend.
The exact cause of death is still unknown.