The death of Scalia
February 25, 2016

Because there aren't enough conspiracy theories already surrounding the Feb. 13 death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative jurist died while at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in West Texas with at least several members of the International Order of St. Hubertus, The Washington Post reports. Members with leadership positions in the exclusive fraternal organization include ranch owner John Poindexter and the friend who accompanied Scalia from Washington to the ranch, C. Allen Foster, a Washington lawyer. At least two more of the 35 weekend guests are also known to be members of the Order, The Post says.

Scalia was at the ranch for a hunting party, and Poindexter has hosted the Order of St. Hubertus at his ranch at least once before, but it's not clear if the Feb. 13 weekend gathering was exclusively for members of the hunting fraternity. "There is nothing I can add to your observation that among my many guests at Cibolo Creek Ranch over the years some members of the International Order of St. Hubertus have been numbered," Poindexter told The Post by email. "I am aware of no connection between that organization and Justice Scalia."

The fraternal "true knightly order in the historical tradition," is named after St. Hubert, the patron saint of hunters, according to the group's website.

The international, male-only order was founded in Bohemia in 1695 by Count Franz Anton von Sporck, an avid hunter and patron of the arts, and carries the motto "Deum Diligite Animalia Diligentes," Latin for "Honoring God by honoring His creatures." Members wear dark green robes with that motto and a cross. The Order of St. Hubertus counts among its past members many members of the Hapsburg family and other Holy Roman Empire nobility, including Emperor Charles VI, and its current Grand Master is "His Imperial and Royal Highness Istvan von Habsburg Lothringen, Archduke of Austria, Prince of Hungary."

The U.S. branch was inaugurated in 1966 at San Francisco's Bohemia Club, which, The Post notes, "is associated with the all-male Bohemian Grove — one of the most well-known secret societies in the country." You catch that, Donald Trump? Peter Weber

February 23, 2016

A letter from Antonin Scalia's physician states that "significant medical conditions," including obesity and diabetes, led to his sudden death on Feb. 13.

The 79-year-old conservative Supreme Court justice was found dead in his bed while on a hunting trip in Texas. Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician for members of the Supreme Court and Congress, wrote the letter to the county judge that certified Scalia's death. In his letter, Monahan wrote that Scalia was a smoker, and suffered from coronary artery disease, sleep apnea, degenerative joint disease, high blood pressure, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Presidio County District Attorney told The Associated Press the letter proved there was nothing suspicious about Scalia's death, and because of his health issues, no autopsy was necessary. Catherine Garcia

February 20, 2016

Rev. Paul Scalia eulogized his late father, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, on Saturday at a funeral Mass in Washington, D.C.

"He understood there is no conflict between loving God and loving one's country, between one's faith and public service," Scalia said.

The conservative justice died in February at age 79 while on a hunting trip in Texas.

"We have been thrilled to read and hear the many words of praise and admiration for him — for his intellect, for his writings, his speech, his influences, and so on. But more important to us and to him, he was dad," Scalia said. "He was the father that God gave us for the great adventure of family life. Sure, he forgot our names at times or mixed them, but there are nine of us. He loved us and sought to show that love and sought to share the blessing of the faith he treasured."

Watch footage from Scalia's funeral below. Julie Kliegman

February 19, 2016

The president and first lady visited the Supreme Court's Great Hall Friday afternoon to honor the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Dressed in black, the couple stood quietly and bowed their heads in front of the casket, which was on public view.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Conservatives had widely criticized the president for not attending Scalia's funeral to be held Saturday (Vice President Joe Biden will attend), calling the decision "shameful" and "not presidential." However, Scalia is only the third justice to die while in office, so there isn't a historic precedent for how presidents should behave during such a sensitive time. Lauren Hansen

February 19, 2016

The fight over whether President Obama should appoint the Supreme Court justice who replaces the late conservative stalwart Antonin Scalia, thus changing the ideological balance of the court, is pretty nakedly partisan. In 2006, Obama, then a senator, tried to filibuster the appointment of Samuel Alito, nominated by George W. Bush — Obama called that a mistake earlier this week. Now Obama points out that it is right there in the Constitution that he "shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint.... judges of the Supreme Court."

On the other side, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately ruled out Obama appointing Scalia's replacement, and after some defections, fellow Republican senators and most presidential candidates are falling in line behind him. When Republicans were in the Senate minority and a Republican president was trying to appoint federal judges with lifetime appointments, however, McConnell and his colleagues were singing a very different tune.

On Sunday's Last Week Tonight, John Oliver explained one precedent Republicans are widely misusing to block Obama's future nominee: the Thurmond Rule, apparently instituted by the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) in the 1960s. He then played a clip of McConnell in 2008 decrying Democratic "obsession" with "the so-called Thurmond Rule, under which the Senate supposedly stops confirming judges in a presidential election year." The rule "doesn't exist," McConnell added. "There is no such rule." Yes, Oliver said, "it seems the Thurmond Rule is a bit like God: When things are going your way, you don't bring it up a lot, but as soon as you're in trouble, it is all you that talk about." Oliver's hard look at this "bulls--t" rule is full of NSFW language:

If you want a clean look at what McConnell said when the shoe was on the other foot — "This seeming obsession with a rule that doesn't exist is just an excuse for our colleagues to run out the clock on qualified nominees who are waiting to fill badly needed vacancies," for example — you can watch the broader speech at C-SPAN below. In it, he does make one pretty indisputable point: "No party is without blame in the confirmation process." Peter Weber

February 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton argued on Tuesday that racism is behind the GOP plan to save the new Supreme Court nomination for President Obama's successor — but CBS poll results released Thursday suggest simple partisanship may be an adequate explanation.

Americans are evenly split on who should nominate the late Justice Scalia's replacement, with 47 percent saying Obama should do so and 46 percent preferring to leave it up to the next president. Respondents' opinions were heavily partisan, as 77 percent of Democrats endorsed the former option and 82 percent of Republicans backed the latter.

Somewhat less controversial right now is the Supreme Court's performance, which 40 percent of likely voters say is "good" or "excellent," a four-year high. Bonnie Kristian

February 17, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden will be the only couple from the White House at Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's funeral Saturday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday. While President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will "pay their respects" to Scalia as he lies in repose in the Supreme Court's Great Hall Friday, Earnest says they do not plan to attend the funeral.

"The president obviously believes it's important for the institution of the presidency to pay his respects to somebody who dedicated three decades of his life to the institution of the Supreme Court," Earnest said. Politico reports that the last time a Supreme Court member died in 2005, then-President George W. Bush both attended the funeral and gave a eulogy for Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Scalia died Saturday at age 79 while in Texas. The question of who should succeed him on the bench has already upended Washington, with Republicans arguing that nominations should be tabled until the next president takes office and the White House asserting that Obama will fulfill his presidential duty by nominating a candidate after the Senate returns from recess on Feb. 22. Becca Stanek

February 17, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia was staying at the luxurious Cibolo Creek Ranch over the weekend when he passed away — a relaxing getaway that is now raising some questions as to why he was in West Texas, and who had paid for the trip.

According to The Washington Post, the 30,000-acre ranch is owned by John B. Poindexter, who apparently invited Scalia to stay on the property at no cost to him. "I did not pay for the Justice's trip to Cibolo Creek Ranch. He was an invited guest, along with a friend, just like 35 others," Poindexter told The Washington Post. However, Poindexter did not elaborate on if he had paid for Scalia's charter flight, or if Scalia had visited the ranch before.

Complicating matters, one of Poindexter's companies reportedly received a favorable result from the Supreme Court last year; the manufacturing company was involved in an age discrimination lawsuit that the Supreme Court declined to hear.

"The Justice was treated no differently by me, as no one was charged for activities, room and board, beverages, etc. That is a 22-year policy," Poindexter wrote in an email.

While Poindexter declined to call Scalia a friend, the specifics of their relationship are not immediately known. Jeva Lange

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