US Justice Scalia Dies

US Justice Scalia DiesUS Justice Scalia Dies

One of the most conservative members of the US Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, has died.

Justice Scalia’s death could shift the balance of power in the US high court, allowing President Barack Obama to add a fifth liberal justice to the bench.

The court’s conservative 5-4 majority has recently stalled major efforts by the Obama administration on climate change and immigration, BBC reported.

Justice Scalia, 79, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. He died in his sleep early on Saturday while in West Texas for a hunting trip, the US Marshalls Service said.

“For almost 30 years, Justice Scalia was a larger-than-life presence on the bench,” President Obama said, calling him “an extraordinary judicial thinker” with “an incisive wit”.

The president said he intends to name a replacement in due time, despite calls from Republicans to wait until the next president is elected.

“There will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the Senate to fulfil its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote,” Obama said.

Born in 1936 in Trenton, New Jersey, Justice Scalia was the first Italian American to serve on the high court.

He was one of the most prominent proponents of “originalism”—a conservative legal philosophy that believes the US Constitution has a fixed meaning and does not change with the times.

In the majority, he supported business interests and was a strong advocate for the death penalty, but he often parted with his conservative colleagues on issues of free speech.