Antonin Scalia, perhaps the most conservative member of the Supreme Court, was found dead today in West Texas, reports KVIA.
It’s believed Scalia, 79, died of natural causes, though local police and the FBI are investigating.
He was registered at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, where he attended a private function on Friday. When he did not appear for breakfast on Saturday, hotel staff went to his room and found the body.
“I was told it was this morning,” U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said of Scalia’s death. “It happened on a ranch out near Marfa. As far as the details, I think it’s pretty vague right now as to how. My reaction is it’s very unfortunate. It’s unfortunate with any death, and politically in the presidential cycle we’re in, my educated guess is nothing will happen before the next president is elected.”
Scalia was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan. Over the past 30 years he has authored some of the court’s most conservative opinions, and was notably opposed to marriage equality.
“The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie,” he wrote last summer when the high court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states.
“To allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.”
Scalia’s death puts added importance on the current presidential race as the next Commander in Chief will likely nominate his replacement.