EDITORIAL: Are you kidding me?? Any investigator worth his own salt would be demanding an autopsy. He was a supreme court justice, for pete’s sake. He was active and working up until his death. Did anyone even check this situation out? No. It happens out in the middle of nowhere and no one seems to have verified anything!
NBC NEWS by and
A Texas state flag flies at an entrance to Cibolo Creek Ranch near Shafter, Texas, on Aug 18, 2015. John Brecher / NBC News
The owner of the Texas ranch and resort where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead Saturday said the revered conservative died peacefully during an enjoyable getaway with people who admired him greatly.
“The judge, when I found him Saturday morning, was in complete repose,” said John Poindexter, the owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch in Marfa, Texas, told NBC News Sunday morning. “He was very peaceful in his — in the bed. He had obviously passed away with no difficulty at all in the middle of the night.”
Poindexter said he wanted Scalia’s family to know that he was in good company before his death. The justice arrived at the ranch on Friday with a “good friend” to join about 35 other people who had been invited to the ranch for a weekend retreat.
Poindexter said Scalia and the rest of the group toured the ranch, but the justice “didn’t exert himself at all.” Later, everyone enjoyed a “very jolly dinner,” Poindexter said. The justice was “his usual personable self” before excusing himself from the meal at about 9 p.m., said the ranch owner.
“He found himself in a very congenial group. He was surrounded by admirers of him and his work,” Poindexter said. “Among the most commonly said things yesterday was, if this had to happen, and we’re really sad that it did, but if it had to happen, it happened in the very best of circumstances,” he added. “He seemed to enjoy himself greatly.”
The next morning, when Scalia didn’t come to breakfast, Poindexter said he “forcefully” knocked on Scalia’s door, but didn’t get an answer. He figured the justice was working, but when he and Scalia’s friend returned at about 11 a.m., the entered the room.
Scalia was found with “no pulse and a very cold sensation,” and upon contacting authorities, Poindexter concluded that the justice was dead.
“It was very difficult for everyone,” Poindexter said.
Scalia was praised by those on both sides of the aisle who admired his resolve and his commitment to the high court.
“Justice Scalia dedicated his life to the cornerstone of our democracy — the rule of law,” said President Barack Obama Saturday. “Tonight, we honor his extraordinary service to our nation and remember one of the towering legal figures of our time.”
FEB 14 2016, 3:12 PM ET
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Justice Antonin Scalia: ‘We Were Best Buddies’
by ELISHA FIELDSTADT and PETE WILLIAMS
Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Antonin Scalia, respectively fourth and fifth from left, pose with members of the cast of “Ariadne auf Naxos” following a performance at the Washington opera in this Jan. 8, 1994. STEPHEN R. BROWN / ASSOCIATED PRESSSupreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said Sunday that she and her unlikely friend Justice Antonin Scalia “disagreed now and then” but even so, “we were best buddies.”
Scalia was found dead Saturday at the age of 79. He and Ginsburg differed greatly in ideologies, but bonded over a shared love of the opera and “our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve,” Ginsburg said.
The justice added that her pal made her better at her job.
“From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies,” she wrote. “We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation.”
While she may have disagreed with him, Ginsburg acknowledged that Scalia “was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.”
In an colorful statement that began like a theater review, Ginsburg wrote:
Toward the end of the opera Scalia/Ginsburg, tenor Scalia and soprano Ginsburg sing a duet: “We are different, we are one,” different in our interpretation of written texts, one in our reverence for the Constitution and the institution we serve.
From our years together at the D.C. Circuit, we were best buddies. We disagreed now and then, but when I wrote for the Court and received a Scalia dissent, the opinion ultimately released was notably better than my initial circulation.
Justice Scalia nailed all the weak spots — the “applesauce” and “argle bargle”—and gave me just what I needed to strengthen the majority opinion. He was a jurist of captivating brilliance and wit, with a rare talent to make even the most sober judge laugh.
The press referred to his “energetic fervor,” “astringent intellect,” “peppery prose,” “acumen,” and “affability,” all apt descriptions. He was eminently quotable, his pungent opinions so clearly stated that his words never slipped from the reader’s grasp.
Justice Scalia once described as the peak of his days on the bench an evening at the Opera Ball when he joined two Washington National Opera tenors at the piano for a medley of songs. He called it the famous Three Tenors performance.
He was, indeed, a magnificent performer. It was my great good fortune to have known him as working colleague and treasured friend.
Scalia’s dedication to the Court and friendship was also remembered by other justices Sunday.
“In every case, he gave it his all to get the broad principles and the small details right,” said Justice Clarence Thomas in a statement. “It is hard to imagine the Court without my friend. I will miss him beyond all measure.”
Justice Stephen Breyer called Scalia “a legal titan.”
“He shared with us, his colleagues, his enthusiasms, his humor, his mental agility, his seriousness of purpose,” Breyer said. “We benefited greatly.”
Scalia “left an indelible mark on our history,” said Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “I will miss him and the dimming of his special light is a great loss for me.”
“He was a towering figure who will be remembered as one of the most important figures in the history of the Supreme Court and a scholar who deeply influenced our legal culture,” echoed Justice Samuel Alito.
“His views on interpreting texts have changed the way all of us think and talk about the law,” said Justice Elena Kagan. On a personal note, ” I will always remember, and greatly miss, his warmth, charm, and generosity,” she said.
Justice Anthony Kennedy said Scalia’s legacy would be lasting. “In years to come any history of the Supreme Court will, and must, recount the wisdom, scholarship, and technical brilliance that Justice Scalia brought to the Court,” he said.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. on Saturday had said Scalia’s passing was “a great loss.”
“He was an extraordinary individual and jurist, admired and treasured by his colleagues,” Roberts said.
Scalia’s former colleagues, the retired justices Sandra Day O’Connor and John Paul Stevens also praised the late justice.
“His gifts of wisdom, wit, and wordsmithing were unparalleled,” said O’Connor.
“Nino Scalia was a good friend, a brilliant man with an incomparable sense of humor, and as articulate as any Justice who ever served on the Court,” Stevens said. “We will all miss him.”
‘It Wasn’t a Heart Attack’: Confusion and Conflicting Reports Surround Justice Scalia’s Death
The Blaze on Feb. 14, 2016 9:31pm Dave Urbanski
It’s been widely reported that a local Texas official said Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died of a heart attack, but that official — a county judge — told the Washington Post Sunday that report isn’t true.
In this March 8, 2012 file photo, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia speaks at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)
Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara refuted a Dallas TV station’s report quoting her as saying Scalia died of “myocardial infarction” — in an interview with the Post, she said she had meant only that his heart had stopped.
“It wasn’t a heart attack,” Guevara told the Post. “He died of natural causes.”
What’s more, following Scalia’s death at the remote Cibolo Creek Ranch near the Mexican border, authorities said it took hours to find a justice of the peace. When Presidio County Sheriff Danny Dominguez finally tracked down Guevara on her cellphone Saturday afternoon, she told WFAA-TV she was shopping.
“He says, ‘Judge, I’m at Cibolo Creek Ranch, and a Supreme Court Justice has just passed away, and I need someone here immediately. Both justices of the peace are out of town at this time,’” Guevara recalled to the station.
“I said, ‘Sheriff, what did you say? Which Supreme Court Justice died at Cibolo Creek Ranch?’ And the phone went dead, because our connection was very bad,” she told WFAA, which added that cell service is inconsistent in the area and there’s no service at the ranch.
“He called me back and he gave me a few more sentences until it broke up again,” Guevara told the station. “And that’s how the conversation went for 20 minutes.” Finally she recognized Scalia’s name.
Guevara acknowledged to the Post that she pronounced Scalia dead over the phone on Saturday without seeing his body. She told WFAA she had planned to head to the ranch but that a U.S. Marshal told her over the phone, “It’s not necessary for you to come, judge. If you’re asking for an autopsy, that’s what we need to clarify.”
Guevara told the station before deciding that she wanted details of Scalia’s death.
“As part of my investigation one of the things I did ask the sheriff and the U.S. Marshal: ‘Were there any signs of foul play? And they said, ‘Absolutely not.’ At that time, I still wanted to be careful and asked them if [Scalia’s] physician would call me,” Guevara told WFAA.
When Scalia’s doctor called Guevara at 8 p.m. Saturday, she told the station that the doctor told her Scalia “had just visited on Wednesday and Thursday, and [the doctor] had done an MRI, then I felt comfortable what I knew was going on with him physically.” She added to WFAA that Scalia also suffered from several chronic ailments.
“He was having health issues,” Guevara told the Post, adding that she’s waiting for a statement from Scalia’s doctor to add to his death certificate when it’s issued later this week.
The Post reported that another justice of the peace was called but couldn’t get to Scalia’s body in time — and that she would have made a different decision. “If it had been me … I would want to know,” Juanita Bishop, a justice of the peace in Presidio, Texas, told the paper in a Sunday interview.
But Guevara cited Texas laws that permit a justice of the peace to declare someone dead without seeing the body, the Post said.
When Scalia didn’t show up for breakfast Saturday morning, John Poindexter — a Houston businessman who owns the ranch and invited Scalia and others — told the Post that he and another person knocked on Scalia’s suite door. After getting no answer, they entered.
— Jason Whitely (@JasonWhitely) February 14, 2016
“Everything was in perfect order,” Poindexter told the Post. “He was in his pajamas, peacefully, in bed.”
The U.S. Marshals Service provides security for Supreme Court justices and told the Post that Scalia had declined a security detail at the ranch. “Deputy U.S. Marshals from the Western District of Texas responded immediately upon notification of Justice Scalia’s passing,” the U.S. Marshals Service statement said, according to the paper.
Scalia’s body was taken to Sunset Funeral Homes in El Paso — about 3 1/2 hours away — on Saturday evening. The procession got there about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, the Post said, citing funeral home manager Chris Lujan. Then about 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Scalia’s family declined to have an autopsy performed, Lujan added to the paper.
Lujan told WFAA Scalia’s body was embalmed, which is required by Texas law before remains can be taken out of state. Lujan told the Associated Press that Scalia’s body was taken to an El Paso airport late Sunday afternoon and will be flown to Virginia.
WFAA reported that Guevara told the station Sunday that Scalia’s heart stopped beating during his sleep. But WFAA added that she told the station hours earlier that myocardial infarction — or a heart attack — would likely be the cause of death listed.
This story has been updated.