Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, has died, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.
In a statement, Abbott extended his “deepest condolences” to Scalia’s family.
The San Antonio News-Express said Scalia had apparently died of natural causes while visiting a luxury resort in West Texas.
“On behalf of the Court and retired justices, I am saddened to report that our colleague, Justice Antonin Scalia, has passed away,” Chief Justice John Roberts said. He said Scalia was an “extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues.”
Scalia, appointed to the top U.S. court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, was known for his strident conservative views and theatrical flair in the courtroom.
His death comes as the court is set to hear its first major abortion case in nearly 10 years, and ahead of key cases on voting rights, affirmative action, and immigration.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Saturday that the next president should be the one to nominate a justice to fill the vacancy left by Scalia’s death.
“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 in a statement.