Justice Antonin Scalia dead at 79


Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a September 2010 file image at the University of California, Hastings. Scalia died on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. 

Ben Kindel

Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia passed away this past weekend. He died of natural causes on Feb. 12 at his Texas ranch, at the age of 79.

Scalia, appointed by former President Ronald Reagan in 1986, served on the Supreme Court for three decades.

He stood out from other associate justices of his time by going back to a stricter interpretation of the Constitution and focusing on the true meaning of the Constitution, which contrasted the progressive decisions before him.

He quickly became a voice for conservatism in the Supreme Court, often writing long and vividly detailed opinions on issues such as the Second Amendment, according to The New York Times.

One of Scalia’s most impactful contributions was his interpretation that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms.

Scalia began his legal career in Cleveland and excelled as a litigator, teacher and judge, ending his career as an associate justice for the highest court in the U.S. In his personal life, many were drawn to his humor and charm.

The passing of Scalia leaves an empty seat on the Supreme Court, but filling it will not be an easy task. The Constitution grants the president power to appoint federal judges, including justices for the Supreme Court.

However, the system of checks and balances requires these appointments to be approved by the Senate.

According to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, President Barack Obama will not be the president to appoint this new justice.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” McConnell said after hearing of Scalia’s passing.

Obama thinks otherwise. He addressed the passing of  Scalia on Saturday, saying that he has every intention of appointing the next justice under his presidency.

“I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time,” he said in a speech he gave from Rancho Mirage, California, following Scalia’s death.

The issue of replacing Scalia was brought up during Saturday’s GOP debate as well. An overwhelming majority of presidential hopefuls denounced the idea of Obama choosing the future of the Supreme Court.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said that Obama should consider “not nominating anybody.”

“It’s called delay, delay, delay,” Republican front-runner Donald Trump said, encouraging the Senate to block the President’s nominations.

Senate Republicans are betting on a Republican win in the election if they are able to delay the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice until after the election.

Ben Kindel is a politics correspondent for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].