The late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia—a conservative and author of the District of Columbia v.Heller decision, which affirmed the individual right to keep and bear arms—was the longest-serving current justice and was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986.
His death means President Barack Obama could have an unprecedented opportunity to shift the balance of the court during his final year in office. As the NRA warned in a tweet on Saturday night, "We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that would harm our Second Amendment rights."
Each of the GOP presidential candidates in Saturday night’s debate called for the Senate to oppose Obama’s ability to nominate Scalia’s successor, preferring to wait on the next president. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed, stating, “This vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”