U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia dead: Texas governor

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia sits in the audience at a National Italian American Foundation event in Washington, in this file photo taken October 20, 2006. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – 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.

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.

Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued the following statement on the passing of Justice Scalia:

“Today, our nation lost Antonin Scalia, a great American and devoted public servant who fiercely defended the Constitution during his three decades on the Supreme Court. Regardless of one’s political or judicial views, there is no doubt that Justice Scalia will be remembered as one of the most thoughtful and consequential Supreme Court justices in contemporary American history. My thoughts and prayers are with Justice Scalia’s family during this time.”

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.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Scott Malone; Editing by Paul Simao)