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Report: Justice Scalia Died of ‘Natural Causes’

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died of natural causes and no autopsy was necessary, a judge has told The Associated Press.

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara, who made the announcement on Sunday, consulted with Scalia’s personal physician and sheriff’s investigators.

According to officials, there were no signs of foul play, before concluding that Scalia had died of natural causes. He was found dead in his room at a West Texas resort ranch Saturday morning. Guevara says the declaration was made around 1:52 p.m. Saturday.

Chris Lujan, a manager for Sunset Funeral Homes in Texas, said the 79-year-old jurist’s body was taken from the El Paso facility late Sunday afternoon and was to be flown to Virginia, although he had no details. Scalia’s family didn’t think a private autopsy was necessary and requested that his remains be returned to Washington as soon as possible, Lujan said.

Scalia’s weekend death was as much of a shock to those at the ranch as it was to the rest of the nation.

The owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch near Marfa, where Scalia died, said the justice seemed his usual self at dinner the night before he was found “in complete repose” in his room.

John Poindexter told reporters Scalia was part of a group of about 35 weekend guests. He arrived Friday around noon.

While flags were being lowered, the campaign-year political heat has risen over the vacancy on the nine-member court.

At issue is whether Obama, in his last year in office, should make a nomination and the Republican-led Senate should confirm that choice in an election year.

Obama pledges a nomination “in due time.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., thinks it should wait for the next president.

The Republican resistance to an election-year confirmation got a thorough public airing on the GOP debate stage just hours after Scalia’s companions found him dead.

Republicans argued that Obama, as a lame duck, should not fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death, but leave it to the next president – which they hope will be one of them.

The Constitution gives the Senate “advice and consent” powers over a presidential nomination to the Supreme Court. Ted Cruz, one of the two GOP senators running for president, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the GOP-controlled Senate is doing its job.