By Gavin Lichtenstein 

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died at the age of 79.

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Local law professor shares her unique connection with Antonin Scalia.

The service’s spokeswoman, Donna Sellers, says Scalia had turned in for the night, the Justice was then found dead Saturday morning. The first sign of suspicion was when Scalia did not appear for morning breakfast.

Scalia used his keen intellect and missionary zeal in an unyielding attempt to move the court farther to the right and to get it to embrace his “originalist” view of judging after his 1986 appointment by President Ronald Reagan.

In his 2008 opinion for the court, Scalia wrote in favor of gun rights. This alone was his crowning moment on the bench.

Questions now swirl through DC on who will appoint the next Supreme Court Justice filling Scalia’s vacant seat. Scalia was part of the 5-4 conservative majority in the high court. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said President Obama should not be appointing the next justice.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” he said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

Just minutes before the Republican Presidential candidates took the debate stage, president Obama called Scalia’s death bigger then politics.

“I plan to fulfill my Constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time,” Obama said.

Scalia was a strong advocate for privacy and the fourth amendment, he often voted favoring restrictions on police searches and protections for defendants’ rights. But he will also be remembered for consistently voting to let states outlaw abortions, to allow a closer relationship between government and religion, and to permit executions and to limit lawsuits.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia (L) listens as US President Barack Obama speaks during the 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremonial swearing-in at the US Capitol on January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Antonin Scalia (L) listens as US President Barack Obama speaks during the 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremonial swearing-in at the US Capitol on January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks on the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia in Rancho Mirage, California on February 13, 2016. Scalia, 79, died Saturday, in Texas. / AFP / Mandel Ngan (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

US President Barack Obama speaks on the death of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia in Rancho Mirage, California on February 13, 2016. Scalia, 79, died Saturday, in Texas. / AFP / Mandel Ngan (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Scalia was one of the staunchest conservative members of the court. He was appointed by Ronald Regan in 1986, and 30 years later remained one of the longest-serving members on the court.

Opinion by 1210 WPHT Dom Giordano on justice Scalia.

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WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 17: Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia (L) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R) wait for the beginning of the taping of "The Kalb Report" April 17, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The Kalb Report is a discussion of media ethics and responsibility at the National Press Club held each month. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 17: Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia (L) and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (R) wait for the beginning of the taping of “The Kalb Report” April 17, 2014 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The Kalb Report is a discussion of media ethics and responsibility at the National Press Club held each month. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Republican and Democratic presidential candidates took to twitter to express their condolences to Justice Scalia and his family.

Former president George W. Bush called Justice Scalia a towering figure of the Supreme Court.

“Laura and I mourn the death of a brilliant jurist and important American, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. 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,” president Bush said.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said Scalia’s death is a great loss to the high courts.

“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,” Roberts said. “We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Maureen and his family.”

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