Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the bench's ideological conservative known for his fiery comments in and out of the courtroom, has died, Texas' governor said Saturday. He was 79.
"Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.
"We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law," the governor added.
The circumstances surrounding his death were not immediately confirmed by NBC News.
Chief Justice Roberts said that he and his fellow justices were saddened to learn of his death.
"He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues. His passing is a great loss to the Court and the country he loyally served," Roberts said in a statement.
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The court's most influential conservative, Scalia was nominated in 1986 under President Ronald Reagan, who named him as associate justice. A lawyer by trade, Scalia entered public service in the 1970s as general counsel for President Richard Nixon and as the assistant attorney general.