US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dead at age 79

In what has to be considered shocking news, US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep while vacationing at a West Texas Resort. The announcement came on Saturday, February 13. Members of his family found him when he didn’t show up for breakfast as scheduled. He was 79-years old at the time of his death.

Justice Scalia was a 1986 court appointee made by then President Ronald Reagan. As a staunch supporter of the US Constitution, he became quite famous for his conservative views on everything from “Freedom of Speech” to abortion rights and everything in between. When appointed, he became the first Italian-American Supreme Court justice in US history.

Upon being informed regarding Justice Scalia’s passing, President Barack Obama offered his respect and praise, saying “a larger than life presence on the bench” and a deeply influential “brilliant legal mind” with an “incisive wit.” He also offered his condolences to the Scalia family.

With several vitally crucial issues currently before the Supreme Court, it creates a large amount of uncertainty, especially during an election year. While President Obama has vowed to make a quick nomination to fill the hole, GOP leadership will most likely try to stave off any confirmation hearings until the election cycle has been completed in November.

With the political leanings of the Supreme Court hanging in the balance, both the Democrats and the GOP have a vested interest in dictating who gets appointed. President Obama has already made two liberal appointments to the Supreme Court in the persons of Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

In passing, Scalia was the longest standing Justice on the current Court. Through the years, he has made many friends as well as enemies with his conservative approach to the US Constitution. Among his peers, he was considered a brilliant legal mind that has helped shape the country as it is today.