Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dead at 79: What the 2016 Presidential Candidates Are Saying

The candidates are weighing in on the death of the Supreme Court justice.

ByABC News
February 13, 2016, 6:39 PM

WASHINGTON — -- The death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the age of 79 is sure to send shockwaves through the 2016 presidential race, beginning with tonight's Republican debate in South Carolina.

Here’s a look at how the candidates are responding to Scalia’s passing:

Ted Cruz

The Texas senator called Scalia “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. And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights. All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning.”

John Kasich

The Ohio governor called Scalia’s death “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. His dedication to the Constitution and love for and service to our country will be deeply missed."

Donald Trump

Trump offered his "sincerest condolences to the Scalia family."

"Justice Scalia was a remarkable person and a brilliant Supreme Court Justice, one of the best of all time. His career was 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."

Marco Rubio

The Florida senator called Scalia "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."

Bernie Sanders

The Democratic presidential candidate issued this statement: "While I differed with Justice Scalia’s views and jurisprudence, he was a brilliant, colorful and outspoken member of the Supreme Court. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and his colleagues on the court who mourn his passing."

Jeb Bush

The former Florida governor called Scalia “a great man whose principled service left our nation vastly better off.”

“Justice Scalia was a brilliant defender of the rule of law -- 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. Now it is up to all of us to fight for the principles Justice Scalia espoused and carry forth his legacy.”

Ben Carson

The former neurosurgeon praised Scalia's "towering intellect and trenchant wit."

"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. Given the dire condition our democracy currently finds itself under Obama's ideological agenda, I call on the Senate to stop any attempts to fill this crucial seat until We The People elect a strong Constitutionalist this November."

Hillary Clinton

The former secretary of state issued this statement: “I did not hold Justice Scalia’s views, but he was a dedicated public servant who brought energy and passion to the bench. 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.”