Saturday, February 13, 2016

Did Antonin Scalia just die in Texas?

If the reports of Scalia's death are correct, which they seem to be, this is a Very Big Deal.  [Update: Those reports have been confirmed.]

There is absolutely no chance that the Republican-controlled Senate would confirm anyone that President Obama nominated to replace Scalia. (Mitch McConnell has already confirmed this.)  So this will almost certainly mean a vacant seat on the Supreme Court between now and the inauguration of the next President ... which will, among other things, help to underline the exceptionally high stakes involved in the 2016 election.

In the meantime, Scalia's absence means that, all of a sudden, there is no longer a 5-4 right-wing majority on the Supreme Court. That is likely to affect the outcome of some extremely important upcoming cases. At the very least, it will probably interrupt the Robert Court's escalating campaign of right-wing judicial activism.  It may also produce extended gridlock on certain key issues.

This is a bombshell.  And the aftershocks are likely to be very messy and prolonged.

—Jeff Weintraub

February 13, 2016  -  5:06 p.m.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at 79
By Daniel Politi

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead in a luxury resort in West Texas on Saturday morning, according to multiple reports. The San Antonio Express-News says Scalia was found dead “of apparent natural causes” while at the Cibolo Creek Ranch. Someone apparently went looking for Scalia Saturday morning after the 79-year-old Supreme Court justice failed to show up for breakfast and found him dead in his room. There was no immediate evidence of foul play, according to a federal official cited anonymously by the Express-News.

Local ABC affiliate KVIA is also reporting the news, claiming it received confirmation that Scalia “died in his sleep … after a day of quail hunting.”

Ted Cruz appears to be the first Republican presidential hopeful to come out with a statement mourning Scalia. “A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history,” Cruz said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement shortly after the news broke, calling Scalia "a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law."


Scalia had been on the Supreme Court since 1986, when he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan.

*This post has been updated since it was first published.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.