Tuesday, September 26, 2023
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Official Explains Why Scalia Got No Autopsy

MARFA, Texas (CN) - The West Texas official who was criticized for not ordering an autopsy for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but declared him dead of natural causes without seeing the body, has explained her decision.

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara said Monday that she consulted with Scalia's personal physician, Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan, who told her Saturday evening that Scalia had a history of heart ailments and high blood pressure.

Scalia, 79, died in his sleep at the Cibola Creek Ranch on Friday night. He attended a private party with approximately 40 people before going to bed and his body was found in the morning when he did not appear for breakfast.

Guevara said she also consulted with local and federal investigators, who told her there were no signs of foul play before she declared Scalia dead Saturday afternoon.

County judges are allowed to declare a person dead under Texas law. Guevara said she did so because both justices of the peace were out of town and she was 65 miles away from the ranch.

A county judge in Texas is not a judicial official, but the head of the five-member county commission. It is an elected position.

Guevara said Monahan told her Scalia was at his office on Wednesday and Thursday before his trip and had an MRI performed on a shoulder injury. She said Scalia was found not to be strong enough for surgery so rehabilitation was ordered instead.

Monahan is the attending physician for all nine Supreme Court justices, as well as members of Congress.

Unlike presidents, Supreme Court justices do not provide public health disclosures.

Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, Scalia was the longest-serving current justice on the Supreme Court. He was a fierce proponent of the "originalism" principle of constitutional interpretation - that the meaning of the Constitution's text is fixed to when it was enacted and cannot be changed unless amended.

This interpretation frequently aligned Scalia with the conservative wing of the court, alongside Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito and Justice Clarence Thomas.

Scalia's body will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Friday. His funeral will be Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

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