Reaction to death of U.S. Justice Scalia

(Reuters) - Conservative U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died, setting up a major political showdown between President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled Senate over who will replace the jurist just months before a presidential election.

Following is reaction to Scalia's death.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

"For almost 30 years, Justice Antonin 'Nino' Scalia was a larger-than-life presence on the bench, a brilliant legal mind with an energetic style, an incisive wit and colorful opinions."

"I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time. There will be plenty of time for me to do so and for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote."

"These are responsibilities that I take seriously, as should everyone. They're bigger than any one party. They are about our democracy. They're about the institution to which Justice Scalia dedicated his professional life and making sure it continues to function as the beacon of justice that our founders envisioned."

FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH

"He was a towering figure and important judge on our nation's highest court. He brought intellect, good judgment, and wit to the bench, and he will be missed by his colleagues and our country."

SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS

"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 so loyally served."

REPUBLICAN SENATE MAJORITY LEADER MITCH MCCONNELL

"The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

DEMOCRATIC SENATE MINORITY LEADER HARRY REID

"The president can and should send the Senate a nominee right away. With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible. It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat. Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate's most essential Constitutional responsibilities.”

REPUBLICAN SENATOR CHUCK GRASSLEY, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN

"Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this president, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court justice."

SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY, RANKING DEMOCRAT ON SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE

"The Supreme Court of the United States is too important to our democracy for it to be understaffed for partisan reasons. It is only February. The president and the Senate should get to work without delay to nominate, consider and confirm the next justice to serve on the Supreme Court."

REPUBLICAN SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM

"Unless (Obama) can find a consensus choice, the next president will pick the replacement for Justice Scalia ... If we lose the election, Hillary Clinton is going to pick somebody that I wouldn’t pick. I’m telling every conservative now, don’t expect to lose the election and still get your way."

REPUBLICAN SENATOR JEFF SESSIONS

"I think it is too late to nominate someone now.

"He (Obama) has every right to nominate but it will be up to the Senate to evaluate that nomination ... and decide whether to move forward with it."

DEMOCRATIC SENATOR RICHARD BLUMENTHAL

"My hope is that the president will promptly nominate someone with strong intellect and integrity who can win bipartisan support. I will work vigorously as a member of the Judiciary Committee to achieve confirmation."

HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

"The Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail who are calling for Justice Scalia’s seat to remain vacant dishonor our Constitution. The Senate has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons."

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

"While I differed with Justice Scalia’s views and jurisprudence, he was a brilliant, colorful and outspoken member of the Supreme Court."

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

"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."

SENATOR TED CRUZ, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

"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."

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

"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."

JEB BUSH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

"His logic and wit were unparalleled, and his decisions were models of clarity and good sense. I often said he was my favorite justice because he took the Constitution, and the responsibility of judges to interpret it correctly, with the utmost seriousness."

OHIO GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

"His death is a serious loss to our nation and the court. He was an essential, principled force for conservative thought and is a model for others to follow." 

BEN CARSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

"It is imperative that the Senate not allow President Obama to diminish his legacy by trying to nominate an individual who would carry on his wishes to subvert the will of the people."

DAVID AXELROD, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

“I expect they will nominate a replacement and the Senate will refuse to take it up. From a policy standpoint, a lot of knotty decisions that might have been 5-4 will now be tied and, assuming the Senate won't act, the lower court rulings will stand. That means on immigration, for example, the Fifth Circuit ruling invalidating the president's order may prevail."

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Steve Holland, Patricia Zengerle, Richard Cowan Jeff Mason, Lawrence Hurley, Alana Wise; Editing by Bill Trott, Paul Simao and W Simon)

SAP is the sponsor of this content. It was independently created by Reuters' editorial staff and funded in part by SAP, which otherwise has no role in this coverage.

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