Politicians, judges, activists, and commentators on the right and the left are sharing their reactions to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death while vacationing in Texas.
“Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law,” said a statement issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, like Scalia a staunch conservative and opponent of marriage equality. “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.”
Chief Justice John Roberts said, “He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he so loyally served.”
Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz echoed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who called for waiting until the next president is in office to appoint Scalia'a replacement:
Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) February 13, 2016
Two of Cruz's competitors for the nomination, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson, also praised the late justice and said the next president, not President Obama, should name Scalia's replacement, USA Today reports. Carson said the U.S. Senate, which confirms Supreme Court nominations, should not allow Obama to appoint a justice who would "subvert the will of the people."
Jeb Bush, who is also seeking the Republican presidential nomination, stopped short of letting the next president select the new justice, but called Scalia his "favorite justice." In a prepared statement, he said, "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.”
Former President George W. Bush, Jeb's brother, issued a statement calling Scalia "a brilliant jurist and important American," adding, "He was a towering figure and important judge on our Nation's highest court. He brought intellect, good judgment, and wit to the bench, and he will be missed by his colleagues and our country."
The right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel joined in the demand to wait for the next president to name Scalia's replacement. “With the passing of Justice Scalia, the future of the High Court and the future of America is hanging in the balance," said founder and chairman Mat Staver on the Liberty Counsel website. "The Senate must not confirm any nominee to the Supreme Court from President Obama. The Senate must hold off any confirmation until the next President is seated. Unfortunately the presidential debates have been more theater and less substance about the real issues surrounding the Supreme Court. The election of the next President has now taken on even greater importance. The future of the Supreme Court and America now depends on the Senate blocking any nominee by President Obama and the people electing the right person to occupy the White House.”
Another far-right legal organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, called it "unlikely" that a replacement will be named before the next president is in office, and chairman and CEO Alan Sears eulogized Scalia as "the most vocal and passionate voice on the Supreme Court for religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family over the past three decades."
On the other end of the ideological spectrum, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders noted its differences with Scalia but expressed respect and sympathy. "GLAD offers its condolences to Justice Antonin Scalia's family, colleagues, and friends on the death of this influential jurist, devoted husband and loving father," read a statement on the legal group's website. "While we may have disagreed on constitutional interpretation, we shared and respected his passion for the law." GLAD attorney Mary Bonauto argued last year's marriage equality case before the Supreme Court, resulting in a ruling for equal marriage rights nationwide — a decision from which Scalia vehemently dissented.
Attorney and marriage equality activist Evan Wolfson struck much the same tone in a tweet:
There are few with whom I've disagreed longer or more than Justice #Scalia. Condolences to his family, and may he rest in peace.
— Evan Wolfson (@evanwolfson) February 13, 2016
Gay journalist Glenn Greenwald got in a bit of snark:
I personally recall with great fondness when Antonin Scalia twice vehemently argued for the right of states to imprison homosexuals for sex.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 13, 2016
This story is developing. Check back for more.