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Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Found Dead, Tributes Pour In


"one of the greatest justices in history"

AP image

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead Saturday apparently of natural causes at a Texas resort, federal officials told the San Antonio Express-News.

FILE - In this March 8, 2012 file phoo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. Scalia says the nation's highest court was wrong 70 years ago to uphold the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. But he told students and faculty at the University of Hawaii's law school on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, the case came during a time of panic about the war. Scalia says he wouldn't be surprised if the court ruled similarly during another conflict. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File) AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File In this March 8, 2012 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

More from the Express-News:

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, of the Western Judicial District of Texas, was notified about the death from the U.S. Marshals Service.

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery told the Express-News he was among those notified about Scalia's death.

"My reaction is it's very unfortunate," Biery told the paper. "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."

The U.S. Marshal Service, the Presidio County sheriff and the FBI were involved in the investigation, the Express-News said, adding that officials with the law enforcement agencies declined to comment.

A federal official who asked not to be named said there was no evidence of foul play and it appeared that Scalia died of natural causes, the paper said.

UPDATE 5:29 p.m. ET: Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz called Scalia "one of the greatest justices in history":

Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our...

Posted by Ted Cruz on Saturday, February 13, 2016

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called Scalia "a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the rule of law."

"He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution," Abbott's statement read. "His fierce loyalty to the Constitution set an unmatched example, not just for judges and lawyers, but for all Americans. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers."

UPDATE 5:54 p.m. ET: Here are some other notable tributes to Scalia:

UPDATE 5:59 p.m. ET: Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio called Scalia "one of the most consequential Americans in our history":

"Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss," Rubio said in a statement. "Justice Scalia was one of the most consequential Americans in our history and a brilliant legal mind who served with only one objective: to interpret and defend the Constitution as written. One of the greatest honors in my life was to attend oral arguments during Town of Greece v. Galloway and see Justice Scalia eloquently defend religious freedom. I will hold that memory forever. The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia's unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear. Jeanette and I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and his family."

UPDATE 6:19 p.m. ET: Republican presidential candidate John Kasich called Scalia's death a "serious loss to our nation and the Court":

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of Justice Scalia and send my prayers out for his family in this difficult time," the Ohio governor said in a statement. "His death is a serious loss to our nation and the Court. He was an essential, principled force for conservative thought and is a model for others to follow. His dedication to the Constitution and love for and service to our country will be deeply missed."

UPDATE 6:26 p.m. ET: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said the Supreme Court vacancy should not be filled until there is a new president, the Associated Press reported.

UPDATE 6:42 p.m. ET: Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he often called Scalia his "favorite justice":

“Today we lost a great man whose principled service left our nation vastly better off," the former Florida governor said in a statement. "This afternoon at Mass, Columba and I prayed for Justice Scalia, who was devout in faith and has been brought home to God in heaven. Our prayers are also with his wife, Maureen, his children and his 28 grandchildren."

He added: "Justice Scalia was a brilliant defender of the rule of law — his logic and wit were unparalleled, and his decisions were models of clarity and good sense. I often said he was my favorite justice, because he took the Constitution, and the responsibility of judges to interpret it correctly, with the utmost seriousness. Now it is up to all of us to fight for the principles Justice Scalia espoused and carry forth his legacy.”

This story has been updated.

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