The Texas governor Greg Abbott and the US marshals service have confirmed that Scalia had died at his ranch. The cause of death was not immediately released.
In a statement, Chief Justice John Roberts said: “On behalf of the court and retired justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away.” (…) “His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”
Appointed to the court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, Scalia made a name for himself as a standard bearer for Conservatism in the United States. During his 3 decades in office, he had became a hero to many Americans, while often enraging liberals.
The process to nominate and confirm his replacement will be fiercely contested and holds the potential to turn Obama’s lame duck session in the White House into one of the most consequential battles of his presidency.
Supreme Court Justices are picked by the US president and confirmed by the US senate, which is currently under Republican control. President Obama has already picked two justices during his presidency with Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, picking a third could help cement his legacy.
Already Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz has announced that he will oppose any candidate Obama suggests, saying that the next president should pick a replacement for a Scalia.
If Obama is successful in electing a Scalia replacement, the appointment has the potential to tip the scales on the US Supreme Court in favor of a more liberal interpretation of the US Constitution. Before Scalia’s death, the 5 judges generally considered to hold more conservative views often prevailed in contentious decisions over their 4 more liberal counterparts.