US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passes away
Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court has passed away at the age of 79.
The senior judge, renowned for his conservative political views, was found dead on a West Texas farm on Saturday 13 February.
President Barack Obama said he was a “brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, incisive wit, and colourful opinions”.
Scalia was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 and went on to become the first Italian-American Justice.
His death carries major implications for the court, which is expected to make highly-anticipated rulings on a number of major cases this Summer, including Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a challenge to affirmative action policies by the university.
The appointment of a successor will open a major political row in the US, as any nomination by the outgoing President will have to be confirmed by Congress.
Front-runners for the Republican nomination in the US presidential election have called for President Obama’s preferred nominee to be blocked by the Republican majority in the legislature.
However, President Obama insisted Sunday: “I plan to fulfil 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 fulfil its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and timely vote.”