Presidential candidates take to Twitter to express their feelings on the death of long-time conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, found dead Saturday at the age of 79. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) U.S. presidential candidates sent their condolences via Twitter on Saturday (February 13) on hearing the news that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had died at the age of 79. Scalia's death was first reported by the San Antonio News-Express, which said he had apparently died of natural causes while visiting a luxury resort in West Texas. Republican Donald Trump Tweeted that Scalia's death was a "setback" for the conservative movement in the country. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders Tweeted that, while he had different views from Scalia, he extended his condolences to the Justice's family and his colleagues at the court. The passing of the conservative Justice sets up a major political showdown between President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled Senate over who will replace him just months before a presidential election. The U.S. president will face a stiff battle to win confirmation of a nominee to replace the dead jurist, with Republicans likely to delay in the hope that one of their own wins the November election. "Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, and the nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next president names his replacement," Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said on Twitter. Marco Rubio also Tweeted that the "next president" should decide who will replace Scalia at the Supreme Court. Obama could tilt the balance of the nation's highest court, which now consists of four conservatives and four liberals, if he tries to and is successful in pushing his nominee through the Senate confirmation process. Conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy sometimes joins with the liberals on high profile issues, including gay rights and the death penalty. The question of replacing Scalia is likely to come up when six of the Republican White House hopefuls participate in a televised debate Saturday evening in South Carolina, which holds its Republican nominating contest on Feb. 20. Scalia's replacement would be Obama's third appointment to the nine-justice court, which is set to decide its first major abortion case in nearly 10 years as well as key cases on voting rights, affirmative action and immigration. This nomination will be different, with Republicans now in charge of the Senate and keen to exert their influence over the process. Obama is likely to be forced into picking a moderate with little or no history of advocating for liberal causes.