8 Must-See Reactions to SCOTUS Justice Scalia’s Death

By Kenrya Rankin Feb 15, 2016

On February 13, 2016, Justice Antonin “Nino” Scalia, 79, died from what doctors have deemed a heart attack during a visit to a ranch in West Texas. Scalia’s death upsets the current balance of the court, which previously gave conservatives a 5 to 4 majority over liberal justices. The Constitution charges the sitting president with nominating a replacement, but some worry that the Obama administration will be unable to get a nominee approved by the majority Republican Senate. If it drags on, the presidential and Senate races will take on all new importance, as each party races to make a mark on the judiciary that will have far-reaching implications for decades. So it makes total sense that politicians quickly jumped into the fray with everything from condolences to opinions about how the vacant seat should be filled (or not filled). Here are the reactions you need to see today:

Chief Justice John Roberts: “On behalf of the Court and retired Justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away. 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. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his family.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren: “The sudden death of Justice Scalia creates an immediate vacancy on the most important court in the United States. Senator McConnell is right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice. In fact, they did—when President Obama won the 2012 election by five million votes. Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says ‘…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.’ Senate Republicans took an oath just like Senate Democrats did. Abandoning the duties they swore to uphold would threaten both the Constitution and our democracy itself. It would also prove that all the Republican talk about loving the Constitution is just that—empty talk.”

President Barack Obama: “For almost 30 years, Justice Antonin ‘Nino’ Scalia was a larger than life presence on the bench. A brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, an incisive wit and colorful opinions. He influenced a generation of judges, lawyers and students, and profoundly shaped the legal landscape. He will no doubt be remembered as one of the most consequential judges and thinkers to serve on the Supreme Court…. Obviously today is a time to remember Justice Scalia’s legacy. I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They’re bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy, they are about the institution to which justice Scalia dedicated his professional life, and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned.”

Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy: “I hope that no one will use this sad news to suggest that the President or the Senate should not perform its constitutional duty. The American people deserve to have a fully functioning Supreme Court. The Supreme Court of the United States is too important to our democracy for it to be understaffed for partisan reasons. It is only February. The President and the Senate should get to work without delay to nominate, consider and confirm the next justice to serve on the Supreme Court.”

Former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Justice Scalia as they mourn his sudden passing. I did not hold Justice Scalia’s views, but he was a dedicated public servant who brought energy and passion to the bench. The Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail who are calling for Justice Scalia’s seat to remain vacant dishonor our Constitution. The Senate has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons.”

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump: “The totally unexpected loss of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is a massive setback for the Conservative movement and our COUNTRY!” 

Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz: “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.” And: “Too many Republicans won’t invest the political capital to nominate principled constitutionalists to ‪#SCOTUS. I will.”

Republican Presidential Candidate Ben Carson: “It is imperative that the Senate not allow President Obama to diminish Justice Scalia’s legacy by trying to nominate an individual who would carry on the President’s wishes to subvert the will of the people. Given the dire condition our democracy currently finds itself under Obama’s lack of leadership, I call on the Senate to stop any attempts to fill this crucial seat until We The People elect a strong Constitutionalist this November.”

*Piece has been updated since publication for length.