U.S. President Barack Obama pays tribute to the ''brilliant legal mind'' of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday at age 79, and says he will nominate a successor to the nation's highest court. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Barack Obama said on Saturday (February 13) he plans to fulfill his constitutional responsibility to nominate a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia. Obama paid tribute to Scalia's legacy on the bench in brief remarks to reporters Saturday evening, but did not give any indication about who he would nominate to replace him, saying the nomination would come in due time. Scalia was found dead at a west Texas ranch Saturday morning, putting the U.S. Supreme Court's future center stage in the country's presidential campaign. The death of the conservative jurist could touch off an election-year battle over who should succeed him on a nine-member bench that interprets U.S. law over such hot-button issues as abortion, gay marriage, healthcare and immigration. Nominating a successor will set up a political showdown between President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and the Republican-controlled Senate over who will replace Scalia and drew swift and furious comments from Republican candidates vying to be elected president in November. The U.S. president has the job of nominating justices, and the Senate has the job of confirming. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose Republicans control the Senate, issued a statement saying the vacancy should not be filled until Obama's successor takes office next January so that voters can have a say in the selection. The issue is likely to take center stage at Saturday night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina.