Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, has died during a hunting vacation in Texas.
Scalia was the leading conservative voice on the court, and his death will set off a mammoth fight over who should replace him in the heat of a presidential election cycle.
Replacing Scalia with a liberal justice could change the balance of the court under Chief Justice John Roberts.
There is likely to be significant pressure on the Senate, which is in Republican hands, to hold off on confirming anyone nominated by President Obama, who is in his last year in office.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement calling the conservative justice an "unwavering defender" of the Constitution.
"He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution," Abbot wrote. "His fierce loyalty to the Constitution set an unmatched example, not just for judges and lawyers, but for all Americans.
Sorry, but I'm not shedding any tears. Good luck to him wherever people like him go when they die. I'm sure Hitler and Stalin are keeping a place nice and warm for him.
Yeah, I just said that...