press release issued by the Texas Governor’s office revealed that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has passed away.

Scalia, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1986 by President Ronald Reagan, was a controversial figure for his deeply held conservative views. In recent months, Scalia’s divisive comments came under fire for comparing pedophiles to gay individuals, as well as for his critiques on the effectiveness of affirmative action in advancing communities of color. 

As charged as this presidential election season already was, a new spark has been flicked to the powder keg.  Scalia’s death presents yet another vacancy to be filled through appointment by President Barack Obama. There is only speculation as to who Obama will appoint, but if his previous appointments of Justices Elena Kagan and  Sonia Sotomayor are any indication, he is likely to attempt to fill Scalia’s chair with another prominent liberal candidate.

Scalia’s passing and the opportunity it presents will no doubt be a topic under heavy discussion during tonight’s Republican debate. Candidates are likely to express fear and anguish at the thought of another Barack Obama appointee and will seek to implore their voters to elect a conservative candidate to provide balance to any future Supreme Court appointments. The long road to the 2016 election has just gotten much longer.

Photo credit: Stephen Masker

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