Justice Scalia Unexpectedly Dies, Scrambling Balance Of U.S. Supreme Court

CREDIT: AP Photo/Jim Mone, File

Antonin Scalia

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead at a West Texas ranch on Saturday. He was 79 years old. Scalia died in his sleep during a hunting trip, apparently of natural causes.

The sudden death of Scalia, one of the Court’s most outspoken conservatives, potentially shifts the balance of the Supreme Court, currently 5-4 in favor of conservatives, setting up an enormous battle in the Republican-controlled Senate that will play out simultaneously with the presidential campaign.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) released a statement calling Scalia “a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law.”

Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and was its longest-serving member.