Presidential candidates react to Justice Scalia's death

More statements from around the county

President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama "extend their deepest condolences to Justice Scalia’s family," according to the White House Press Pool.

Former president Georgia W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush said they mourn the death of "a brilliant jurist and important American," calling Scalia "a towering figure and important judge on our Nation's highest court."

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. called Scalia's death "a great loss to the Court."

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: "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."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid fired back, calling McConnell's statement "shameful" and saying it would be "unprecedented in recent history for SCOTUS to go year with vacancy."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the conservative justice "a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law."

Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias said "Justice Scalia was one of the true giants of American law. No one who has served on the Supreme Court was more dedicated to the Constitution and the rule of law." Read more here.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away at the age of 79 in Texas this Saturday, officials say.

Scalia's death will likely set off a contentious, months-long confirmation battle between Senate Republicans and President Barack Obama during his final year of office.

The remaining Republican candidates for president are expected to meet in South Carolina for the ninth GOP debate Saturday.

Here is what the presidential candidates have said about Justice Antonin Scalia:

Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz said the justice "will go down as 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.

Businessman Donald Trump called Justice Scalia's death "totally unexpected."

I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the Scalia family after the passing of Justice Scalia. 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. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called Scalia "one of the most consequential Americans in our history," according to a press release.

Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss. Justice Scalia was 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. Jeanette and I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and his family.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush called Scalia his favorite justice.

Today we lost a great man whose principled service left our nation vastly better off. This afternoon at Mass, Columba and I prayed for Justice Scalia, who was devout in faith and has been brought home to God in heaven. Our prayers are also with his wife, Maureen, his children and his 28 grandchildren.

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.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said the death was a "serious loss to our nation and the Court."

I am deeply saddened by the passing of Justice Scalia and send prayers out for his family in this difficult time. 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. His dedication to the Constitution and love for and service to our country will be deeply missed.

Dr. Ben Carson said Scalia "always dutifully carried out his responsibilities to interpret the law, not to make new ones." Read full statement here.'

It is imperative that the Senate not allow President Obama to diminish Justice Scalia's legacy by trying to nominate an individual who would carry on the President's wishes to subvert the will of the people. Given the dire condition our democracy currently finds itself under Obama's lack of leadership, I call on the Senate to stop any attempts to fill this crucial seat until We The People elect a strong Constitutionalist this November.

We will miss him sorely. We pray for his family and friends, and we pray for America, which today lost a patriot and a faithful servant.

Democratic presidental candidate U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders said:

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.

Sec. Hillary Clinton said:

My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Justice Scalia as they mourn his sudden passing. 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.