Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died at the age of 79. For nearly 30 years, Scalia was the leading conservative voice on the bench, known, among other things, for his opposition to the Voting Rights Act and gay rights and his support for gun rights. He died Saturday at a hunting resort in West Texas. President Obama, who has 11 months remaining in his term, said he will nominate someone to fill the empty seat.
President Barack Obama: “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.”
Senate Republicans are vowing to block President Obama from filling Scalia’s Supreme Court seat. The next justice could tilt the balance of the Supreme Court, which has been left with four conservatives and four liberals. The vacancy could have an immediate impact on how the now eight-person court will rule in several key cases, including a major abortion case just two weeks away. We’ll have more on the impact of Scalia’s death after headlines.