The Internet Reacts To Supreme Court Justice Scalia's Death

February 13th 2016

Aron Macarow

Senior U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia has died at age 79 at Cibolo Creek Ranch in West Texas on Saturday. According to federal officials, Scalia died of natural causes. 

Nominated to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan and the first Italian American to be a member of the court, Scalia was a distinctive character on the bench and the author of myriad outrageous statements, including these from his famous dissent against marriage equality in 2015:

"If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: ‘The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,’ I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie."

"The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic."

Given his polarizing personality, online reactions to his passing have been mixed:

Chief Justice John Roberts has also responded to Scalia's death, stating the he and his colleagues were saddened to hear of his passing:

"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."

There are also those reminding us what this means for the upcoming 2016 elections, now imbued with added importance because of the lasting impact that a presidential judicial nomination can make on the Supreme Court.

Scalia's unexpected passing does setup a battle to replace him, which is evident with the responses coming out of the Republican party promising to block anyone that President Barack Obama nominates. A key staffer for Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has this to say moments after Scalia's death was confirmed:

Although it's still possible that Obama will be able to shepherd a candidate successfully through the nominations process and onto the Supreme Court, it's more likely to become a major theme in the 2016 election. Pointing to a key issue for the Supreme Court moving forward, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin notes: "[Scalia's] departure leaves a huge political fight in the offing because this is a court with five Republican appointees (and) four Democratic appointees."