found dead at a ranch in Texas today. According to news reports, he had arrived at Cibolo Creek Ranch in Big Bend, not far from Marfa, on Friday. This morning, he did not show up for breakfast, and when somebody was sent to look for him, they found his body. His is said to have died of natural causes. Scalia was 79.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued the following statement upon hearing the news:
"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."
UPDATED: There's now a post on the Supreme Court of the United States blog about Scalia's passing, which you can read here.
Here's an interesting takeaway from the post:
The most immediate implications involve the presidential election. President Obama of course has the power to nominate a successor, with the consent of the Senate. In the ordinary course, because the opening was unexpected, the nomination would not be forthcoming for a couple of months and then the confirmation process would take several more months.
Theoretically, that process could conclude before the November election. But realistically, it cannot absent essentially a consensus nominee – and probably not even then, given the stakes. A Democratic president would replace a leading conservative vote on a closely divided Court. The Republican Senate will not permit such a consequential nomination – which would radically shift the balance of ideological power on the Court – to go forward.