Justice Antonin Scalia, a native of Trenton, has died.
According to a report today in the San Antonio Express-News, the 79-year old Associate Justice was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas.
The longest serving justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Scalia was also known as its fiercest conservative. President Ronald Reagan appointed Judge Scalia to the court in 1986.
A strong defender of the executive branch of government, Justice Scalia adamantly opposed affirmative action.
Gov. Chris Christie issued a statement in response to the news.
“The tragic passing of Justice Antonin Scalia is an enormous loss to our entire country,” Christie said. “Justice Scalia was the bedrock of the Court who, with unmistakable wit and good humor, was unwavering in his fidelity to the Constitution and a fierce advocate and protector of the liberties and freedoms it grants to us all as Americans.
“Justice Scalia was a Trenton-born New Jerseyan and the first Italian American to serve on the Supreme Court. He was an example and inspiration, and a leader we are proud to call a native son of New Jersey. Mary Pat and I send our thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones, and the countless friends who mourn him tonight.”
U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) released the following statement on the death of the Supreme Court Justice.
“Justice Scalia was a great patriot and dedicated public servant,” Lance said. “He was a son of New Jersey. Born in Trenton, he would go on to serve the United States for 30 years with great distinction on the Supreme Court. His intellect, wisdom and strict defense of our Nation’s Constitution will be his lasting legacy. His family’s tradition of public service includes the fact that his uncle, Vincent R. Panaro, served as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly a generation ago from Mercer County.”
U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) serves the district that includes Trenton, where the late justice was born.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Justice Scalia at his difficult time,” said the congresswoman. “Justice Scalia served our nation at the highest level, and did so with great commitment. I hope that his friends and family find peace and comfort in their moment of grief.”
State Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13), Jeb Bush’s leading New Jersey supporter, issued a statement.
“Saddened by the sudden loss of Supreme Court Justice Scalia,” Kyrillos said. “A proud son of Trenton who dedicated his life to the law and defense of the Constitution. Our country salutes the incredible life he lived and his service to our country. A huge loss for the USA.”
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz also praised the justice for his three-plus decades on the Supreme Court.
“Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia,” said Cruz in a statement. “A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.
“As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism,” the Texas senator added. “And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights. All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning.”
The death of the justice is guaranteed to throw the presidential contest into even more upheaval as politicos anticipate President Barack Obama appointing someone Republicans won’t confirm.
As one politico described it to PolitickerNJ, it will be a “huge election sticking point.”