Latest: Airport says plane with Scalia's body has left Texas

AP News
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Posted: Feb 14, 2016 10:45 PM
Latest: Airport says plane with Scalia's body has left Texas

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the death of U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia:

10:30 p.m.

An El Paso International Airport official says a private plane carrying the body of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has left the West Texas airport.

Terry Sharpe, the airport's assistant director for operations, says the plane departed around 8 p.m. Eastern time Sunday.

Sharpe says U.S. marshals accompanied Scalia's body to the airport. He said he didn't know where the plane was headed.

A manager for the funeral home in El Paso where Scalia's body was taken said earlier Sunday that the justice's remains would be flown to Virginia, but he didn't know exactly where.

The U.S. Marshals Service referred questions about the flight to Supreme Court officials, who did not immediately respond to inquiries.

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9:30 p.m.

The owner of a West Texas ranch where Antonin Scalia died says the U.S. Supreme Court justice seemed his usual self at dinner the night before he was found "in complete repose" in his room.

John Poindexter, the owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch near Marfa, told reporters Scalia was part of a group of about 35 weekend guests. He arrived Friday around noon.

Poindexter says the group had dinner Friday night and Scalia was his "usual personable self." Poindexter says Scalia retired around 9 p.m., saying he wanted a long night's sleep.

Poindexter said when Scalia's body was discovered Saturday morning, it was obvious he had "passed away without any difficulty" in the night and seemed "peaceful."

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7:50 p.m.

The manager of a West Texas funeral home says the body of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been taken to an El Paso airport and will be flown to Virginia.

Chris Lujan (loo-HAHN') — a manager for Sunset Funeral Homes — says Scalia's body was taken from the facility late Sunday afternoon. Lujan says it was to be taken to Virginia, but he didn't know exactly where.

Lujan says an autopsy was not performed.

He says Scalia's family didn't think a private autopsy was necessary and requested his remains be flown home as soon as possible.

The county official who declared Scalia dead Saturday did not order an autopsy after finding he had died of natural causes. She said investigators told her there were no signs of foul play.

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7 p.m.

The top elected official in the Texas county where Antonin Scalia was found dead says the U.S. Supreme Court justice died of natural causes.

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara told The Associated Press on Sunday she consulted with Scalia's personal physician and sheriff's investigators, who said there were no signs of foul play, before concluding the 79-year-old 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.

Scalia's body was taken to a Texas funeral home Sunday as officials awaited word on whether they would need to perform an autopsy. Tentative plans call for his body to be flown on Tuesday back home to his family in a northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C.

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1:30 p.m.

The White House says President Barack Obama will nominate a successor to the late Justice Antonin Scalia "in due time," once the Senate returns from a weeklong recess.

At that point, spokesman Eric Schultz says the White House expects the Senate to consider the nominee in keeping with its constitutional responsibilities.

Leading Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates have insisted that Obama leave the job of naming Scalia's successor to the next president.

Obama said he intends to fulfill his constitutional duty to nominate another justice to fill the open seat on the nation's highest court.

The president took about a month to nominate Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to fill earlier vacancies on the court.

The Senate is taking the week off for the Presidents Day holiday.

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11:20 a.m.

Jeb Bush says it doesn't matter to him whether Senate Republicans vote on a Supreme Court nominee President Barack Obama may send to Capitol Hill to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Bush tells CNN's "State of the Union" that the decision is up to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who's said there will be no such vote until Obama leaves office in January.

The Republican presidential candidate says it's "really not important to me" whether there's a vote before then.

That sentiment isn't shared by Bush's Republican presidential rivals. Soon after Scalia's death, they were demanding that a prospective Obama nominee not get a vote.

Bush says Obama has "every right" to submit a nominee to the Senate. But the former Florida governor says he doesn't think Obama would nominate someone who's "in the mainstream." He said that if Obama sends a nominee who's out of what Bush considers "the mainstream," Senate leaders should block or reject the nomination.

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10 a.m.

The body of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been taken to a funeral home in El Paso, Texas, where officials are waiting to hear whether an autopsy will be performed.

Chris Lujan (loo-HAHN') — a manager for Sunset Funeral Homes — says a procession that included about 20 law enforcement officers arrived early Sunday at the funeral home.

The procession traveled more than three hours from the West Texas resort ranch where Scalia was found dead in his room on Saturday morning.

Lujan says if an autopsy is ordered by Scalia's family or a justice of the peace, then it likely will be performed at the funeral home by an El Paso County medical examiner.

Lujan says tentative plans call for Scalia's body to be flown back home Tuesday to his family in Virginia.

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9:45 a.m.

A proclamation from President Barack Obama orders flags to be flown at half-staff "as a mark of respect" for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The order applies to the White House, Supreme Court and other public buildings and grounds in the nation's capital and elsewhere in the country.

The order is in effect until sunset on the day of Scalia's interment.

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This story corrects Jeb Bush's quote to "really not important to me," not "it's not important to me."