Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died peacefully in his sleep last night after a day of quail hunting at a Texas ranch.

An El Paso source close to Justice Antonin Scalia tells ABC-7 that the 79-year-old died in his sleep last night after a day of quail hunting at Cibolo Creek Ranch outside of Marfa, Texas.

The Justice did not report feeling ill and retired to his room after dinner. The source, who was traveling with Scalia, told ABC-7 an El Paso priest has been called to Marfa.

Scalia was the longest-serving current Justice on the Supreme Court. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott released the following statement:

“Justice Antonin Scalia was 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. 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.”

Judge Scalia is survived by his wife Maureen, nine children, and 28 grandchildren. His was a life well-lived.

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Sadly, when a Supreme Court Justice dies in office, the thoughts of both parties immediate turn to politics when the court left behind is evenly split among conservative and liberal justices, as the sitting President now has an opportunity to appoint a nominee that will potentially shape the political landscape for decades to come.

President Obama certainly desires to nominate a liberal replacement for Justice Scalia to give the Court a left-leaning 5-4 majority.

My colleague Jazz Shaw at Hot Air doesn’t think he’ll have the opportunity.

Unfortunately, while the mourning and remembrances will go on for some time, Scalia’s passing will throw a serious curve into an already convoluted presidential election year. It’s a fairly safe bet that after a suitable period of mourning, President Obama will move to nominate a replacement. It’s also an almost near certainty that the nominee in question will not get a hearing while Barack Obama is still in office. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley respectively have the final say as to whether any vote on the floor takes place. While there will be massive pressure from the Left for them to do so, I’m sure McConnell knows the sort of revolt which would follow were he to schedule such a vote.

Among those of us who cherish the Founding Fathers, Judge Scalia will be remembered as an originalist and textualist who authored the Heller decision. His passing serves to remind us that if we want to retain and reapply our Second Amendment rights, rolling back gun bans, then we simply must not only run out the clock on Obama’s nominee, but ensure that we nominate an pro-gun Republican candidate who is also a strict constitutionalist.

The next President of the United States will not only likely name Justice Scalia’s replacement, but the replacement of perhaps several more justices on an aging court.

It’s imperative that we nominate a Presidential candidate that is both electable and knows how important that we nominate young SCOTUS nominees that are originalists like Scalia to overturn existing gun laws and reassert the right to be arms as the founders intended.