Sadly, Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death from “natural causes” had no sooner been announced yesterday than the Internet began to buzz with conspiracy theories of potential foul play.
Well, now local authorities in the Texas town where Scalia passed have announced the justice’s official cause of death was a heart attack. In addition, they have declared foul play was “absolutely not” involved.
A Texas judge confirmed today that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia‘s official cause of death was a heart attack.
Scalia was staying at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas and was found dead in his room yesterday morning. The mournful reactions came in from legal scholars, presidential candidates, Scalia’s own colleagues, and plenty of people who disagreed with him about the loss of this giant legal mind.
According to USA Today, Scalia’s death certificate lists a myocardial infarction as cause of death. Judge Cinderela Guevara said she was called by a county sheriff yesterday afternoon because the two justices of the peace were out of town.
She went into more detail about what happened yesterday:
“As part of my investigation, one of the things I did ask the sheriff and the U.S. Marshal: ‘Were there any signs of foul play?’ And they said, ‘Absolutely not.’ At that time I still wanted to be careful, and asked them if (Scalia’s) physician would call me.”
The justice’s personal doctor called her at 8 p.m. Saturday night. She said the physician told her that Scalia had a shoulder problem last week and underwent an MRI. Scalia also suffered several chronic ailments, Guevara said.
“I felt comfortable what I knew was going on with him physically,” she said.
Scalia’s body was moved to a funeral home in El Paso today.
It’s unclear whether Judge Guevara’s statement will put concerns about potential foul play to rest.
Even as the cause of death was being announced, a report that the justice was found with a “pillow over his head” was published, citing the eyewitness account of the man who’d hosted Justice Scalia at the ranch where he died.
And now, the Washington Post is reporting this:
Yet as details of his sudden death trickled in Sunday, it appeared that the hours afterward were anything but orderly. The man known for his elegant legal opinions and profound intellect was found dead in his room at a hunting resort by a ranch owner.
It then took hours for authorities in remote West Texas to find a justice of the peace, officials said Sunday. When they did, she pronounced Scalia dead of natural causes without seeing the body and decided not to order an autopsy. A second justice of the peace, who was called but couldn’t get to Scalia’s body in time, said she would have ordered an autopsy.
As late as Sunday afternoon, there were conflicting reports about whether an autopsy would be performed, though officials later said Scalia’s body was being embalmed and there would be no autopsy. One report, by WFAA-TV in Dallas, said the death certificate would show the cause of the death was a heart attack.
It would seem strange indeed not to perform an autopsy. CNN is now reporting the decision to forgo an autopsy was made both by the family and the Texas Justice of the Peace, according to its (unnamed) source.
I, for one, certainly hope that suspicions about how he died doesn’t overshadow this great man’s legacy. May he rest in peace.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]