U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia found dead at 79
By: Annie Yager, Xiro Xone News February 14, 2016
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.
Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa. Scalia arrived at the 30,000-acre ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people that night, according to a federal official. Scalia was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.
He left the party and retired to bed earlier than others, according to Donna Sellers, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Marshals Service. When he failed to appear at breakfast, a person involved with the ranch went to his room, where he discovered his body. A priest was called to administer last rites.
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.
U.S. District Judge Fred Biery said he was among those notified about Scalia's death. "I was told it was this morning," 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," he said. "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."
The U.S. Marshal Service, the Presidio County sheriff and the FBI were involved in the investigation. Officials with the law enforcement agencies declined to comment.
A gray Cadillac hearse pulled into the ranch Saturday afternoon and left about 5 p.m. The hearse came from Alpine Memorial Funeral Home.
Scalia's body was taken to El Paso, where it will be escorted back the nation's capital by U.S. marshals and U.S. Supreme Court Police.
The death immediately became an issue in the presidential race as during a GOP debate Saturday night, five of the six candidates taking part urged Republicans to block any attempt by the president to get his third nominee on the court.
Only Jeb Bush said Obama had "every right" to nominate a justice during his final year in office. President Obama, in remarks to the nation, praised Scalia as a brilliant legal mind who influenced a generation of lawyers and students.
The President also announced his intentions to nominate a successor, saying he plans to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to fill the vacancy.