U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dies at 79; McConnell says next president should appoint successor

02/13/2016 07:10 PM

With the sudden death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday, Republicans are expressing their sympathy and indicating they’ll hold out for a new president to confirm a replacement.

Scalia, a leading conservative voice on the high court, died in Texas while on a hunting trip, according to multiple news reports.

The death of the justice is already setting up a massive showdown between President Barack Obama, who expressed his sympathies on Saturday, and the U.S. Senate led by Kentucky Sen. and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said in a press release. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

Obama has the power to appoint justices but will face a monumental task to get his pick through the GOP-led Senate.

In his statement Saturday, McConnell went on to remark on the impact of Scalia on the court and the nation.

“Today our country lost an unwavering champion of a timeless document that unites each of us as Americans,” McConnell said. “Justice Scalia’s fidelity to the Constitution was rivaled only by the love of his family: his wife Maureen his nine children, and his many grandchildren.

“Through the sheer force of his intellect and his legendary wit, this giant of American jurisprudence almost singlehandedly revived an approach to constitutional interpretation that prioritized the text and original meaning‎ of the Constitution,” McConnell continued. “Elaine and I send our deepest condolences to the entire Scalia family.”

Scalia was first appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Most recently he dissented on the court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, calling the ruling a threat to Democracy. In his dissent against the Affordable Care Act, with a flourish he wrote of “interpretive jiggery-pokery” and that the nation should call the law “SCOTUScare.”


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