Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s eldest son is slamming the wild conspiracy theories about his father’s death on Saturday at the age of 79.
“It’s, I think, a distraction from a great man and his legacy at a time when there’s so much to be said about that and to help people even more fully appreciate that,” Eugene Scalia said on Laura Ingraham’s radio show Wednesday. “And, on a personal level, I think it’s a bit of a hurtful distraction for a family that’s mourning.”
He added that his father “would have been the first to tell you … that we’re from dust, we return to dust, your life could be taken from you at any instant.”
“He lived this incredibly full and active life,” he continued. “But I knew, and he knew, that he was at a place in life where he could be taken from this world at any time.”
He said the Scalia family “has no doubt” he died of natural causes. “And we accept that,” he said. “We’re praying for him. We ask others to accept that and pray for him.”
Conspiracy theories surrounding Scalia’s sudden death have circled the internet in the days since.
The predominantly right-wing conspiracy theorists who believe foul play might have been involved point out that Scalia’s cause of death has not been officially determined and an autopsy was not ordered.
Some note that Scalia was pronounced dead over the phone and was reportedly found later with a pillow over his head.
Others point out that Scalia had declined a security detail for his weekend visit to the Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas, which led to him being alone at the time of his death.
The theories first began to swirl after John Poindexter, who owns the ranch where Scalia was staying, said he found the jurist under a pillow, although he looked “as if he was taking a nap.”
“We discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bedclothes were unwrinkled,” he told the San Antonio Express-News.
Poindexter later told CNN the pillow was over his head, “not over his face as some have been saying.”
“The pillow was against the headboard and over his head when he was discovered,” he added. “He looked like someone who had had a restful night’s sleep. There was no evidence of anything else.”
Without having seen the body, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara pronounced Scalia dead over the phone, which is allowed in Texas, and told a Dallas TV station that he died of a “myocardial infarction,” known as a heart attack. She would later walk back that claim to The Washington Post and said she was only aware that his heart had stopped, not that he suffered a heart attack. She then said Scalia underwent an MRI last week and was suffering from multiple conditions.
Indeed, a US marshal on the scene said it wasn’t necessary to observe the body in person, Vox reported, and law enforcement officials made clear to Guevara that no foul play was evident.
A manager at the funeral home Scalia’s body was taken to, moreover, told the Post that his family didn’t want an autopsy performed — a choice that has been heavily scrutinised.
“If it had been me … I would want to know,” Juanita Bishop, a justice of the peace in Presidio, told the Post.
GOP presidential front-runner and business mogul Donald Trump is among those who have fanned flames on the theory.
“I’m hearing it’s a big topic,” Trump said in a Monday interview with conservative radio host Michael Savage. “It’s a horrible topic but they’re saying they found the pillow on his face, which is a pretty unusual place to find a pillow.”
“I can’t give you an answer,” he continued. “It’s just starting to come out now.”
But Ed Whelan, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a former clerk for Scalia, called the conspiracy theories “baseless” on Twitter.
“To those peddling baseless claim that Scalia might have been murdered: STOP!!! This is poisonous and grossly irresponsible rhetoric.”
Scalia’s death, which opened a seat on the Supreme Court, is now at the heart of the 2016 election. Republicans are demanding that the Senate refrains from confirming US President Barack Obama’s eventual appointment to the court, while Democrats are lambasting Republicans for obstructing a constitutional right of the president.
Scalia’s funeral will be held Saturday in Washington, DC.
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