5-4 Balance on Supreme Court Thrown Into Chaos

5-4 Balance on Supreme Court Thrown Into Chaos

5-4 Balance on Supreme Court Thrown Into Chaos

Antonin Scalia, the influential conservative and most provocative member of the Supreme Court, has died, leaving the high court without its conservative majority and setting up an ideological confrontation over his successor in the maelstrom of a presidential election year. Scalia was 79.

The U.S. Marshals Service in Washington confirmed Scalia's death at a private residence in the Big Bend area of West Texas. Spokeswoman Donna Sellers said Scalia had gone to his room the previous evening and was found dead Saturday morning after he did not appear for breakfast.

A gray hearse was seen at the entrance to the Cibolo Creek Ranch, near Shafter, on Saturday accompanied by an SUV. The two-car caravan pulled out onto U.S. 67, which runs between wide stretches of dry, ochre winter fields. A man sat guard near a brown stone wall at the entrance to the ranch, the West Texas mountains rising in the background.

Scalia was part of a 5-4 conservative majority — with one of the five, Anthony Kennedy, sometimes voting with liberals on the court. Scalia's death leaves President Barack Obama weighing when to nominate a successor, a decision that immediately sparked a political struggle drawing in Congress and the presidential candidates.

 

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