Terrible news out of Texas this afternoon. At the age of 79, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been confirmed as having been found dead at a ranch where he was a guest.

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead of apparent natural causes Saturday on a luxury resort in West Texas, federal officials said.

Scalia, 79, was a guest at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a resort in the Big Bend region south of Marfa.

According to a report, Scalia arrived at the ranch on Friday and attended a private party with about 40 people. When he did not appear for breakfast, a person associated with the ranch went to his room and found a body.

Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia, of the Western Judicial District of Texas, was notified about the death from the U.S. Marshals Service.

The author of the Heller decision among so many, many others, will be missed. Appointed by Reagan in September of 1986, he built a reputation as the conservative’s conservative and a strict, fierce defender of the Constitution. He was also the first person of Italian descent to hold the post. He was famous among those who got to know him for having a raucous sense of humor and being a loyal friend to people from all walks of life.

One of the first of our presidential candidates to comment on his passing was Ted Cruz, who had dealt with him across the bench personally.

“Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia. A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history.

“As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism.

Unfortunately, while the mourning and remembrances will go on for some time, Scalia’s passing will throw a serious curve into an already convoluted presidential election year. It’s a fairly safe bet that after a suitable period of mourning, President Obama will move to nominate a replacement. It’s also an almost near certainty that the nominee in question will not get a hearing while Barack Obama is still in office. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley respectively have the final say as to whether any vote on the floor takes place. While there will be massive pressure from the Left for them to do so, I’m sure McConnell knows the sort of revolt which would follow were he to schedule such a vote.

Swinging back to Cruz for a moment, he tweeted out a sentiment along the same lines while I was writing this.

It’s sad that his passing will turn into such a food fight but I don’t see it as avoidable. In the meantime, we can all look back on several decades of work well done by Antonin Scalia. If you want to walk down memory lane, he leaves a variety of compelling books, though none as important as the body of decisions he wrote.

UPDATE: Statement from Rubio.

“Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss. Justice Scalia was one of the most consequential Americans in our history and a brilliant legal mind who served with only one objective: to interpret and defend the Constitution as written. One of the greatest honors in my life was to attend oral arguments during Town of Greece v. Galloway and see Justice Scalia eloquently defend religious freedom. I will hold that memory forever. The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia’s unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear. Jeanette and I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and his family.”

UPDATE: Trump statement.

“I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the Scalia family after the passing of Justice Scalia,” Trump said in a later statement. “Justice Scalia was a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice, one of the best of all time. His careerwas defined by his reverence for the Constitution and his legacy of protecting Americans’ most cherished freedoms.”

“He was a Justice who did not believe in legislating from the bench and he is a person whom I held in the highest regard and will always greatly respect his intelligence and conviction to uphold the Constitution of our country. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.”

scalia-point