Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the outspoken leader of the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc, was found dead at a Texas ranch Saturday morning.
“I am saddened to report that our colleague Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement Saturday afternoon. “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.”
The death was first reported by the San Antonio Express News on its website, quoting U.S. District Judge Fred Biery.
Scalia, 79, was a guest at the resort in West Texas, the Cibolo Creek Ranch, reportedly as part of a private group of about 40 people. When he didn’t appear for breakfast Saturday, someone went to his room to check on him and found a body.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement extending condolences to Scalia’s family. He called the justice “the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution.”
Over nearly three decades on the high court, Scalia’s sharp intellect and acerbic opinions made him a hero to conservatives and a target for liberals. Yet he also was a close friend to a leader of the court’s liberal wing, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.