US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dies, aged 79

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Antonin Scalia.
Image: US Supreme Court.

Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, died at the age of 79, according to a Saturday afternoon statement by Chief Justice John G. Roberts.

Reports indicate Scalia died of apparently natural causes while on a trip this weekend in Texas. He was nominated for his Supreme Court position by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Scalia's death prompts US President Barack Obama to nominate a successor, which he said Saturday he will do. Obama, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled United States Senate, which must confirm a nominee, are likely to be at odds. "I plan", he stated, "to fulfill my Constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time [...] There will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he believes a successor should not be nominated until after a new president takes office next January. "The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice", he said. "Therefore this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

Antonin Scalia was born on March 11, 1936 and attended Georgetown University and Harvard Law School before a stint in private law practice, followed by a job teaching law at the University of Virginia. He served on the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1982 until his confirmation to the US Supreme Court. He was generally considered a leading conservative on the Court during his time as an associate justice.

"He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues," Roberts said in his statement on Scalia's death. "His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served."