The son of former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Wednesday rejected conspiracy theories that his father was the victim of foul play.
Appearing on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” Eugene Scalia called the suggestions a “hurtful distraction for a family in mourning” and asked Americans for their prayers.
“Our family just has no doubt that he was taken from us by natural causes,” said the younger Scalia, who practices law. “We accept that. We’re praying for him. We ask others to accept that and pray for him.”
The elder Scalia died suddenly over the weekend at a Texas ranch.
Some have raised the possibility of foul play based on reports that a pillow was found over his head and the fact that authorities did not perform an autopsy. But the owner of the facility said the pillow was over the justice’s head, not his face, and that there no signs of a struggle.
Scalia said he understands that it is difficult for people to accept that a larger-than-life figure is gone.
“My father, he was like a force of nature,” he said. “He seemed sort of a permanent institution. But he’d have been the first to tell you — the first — that, you know, we’re from dust, we return to dust. Your life can be taken from you at any instant. He was a month shy of 80 years old. He led this incredibly full and active life. But I knew, and he knew, that he was in a place in life where he could be taken from this world at any time, and that’s what happened last week.”
Scalia said the family is persevering.
“Everybody loses their dad at some point,” he said. “And I feel blessed that it’s not just the family who feels that he was great, but that there are millions of people who feel that and so many, like you, who are honoring it.”
Reflecting on the justice’s legacy, Scalia said his father changed the way the court approaches the law. He said that a few years ago, he read a case decided the year before his father joined the court and realized that neither the majority opinion nor the dissent would be written the same way today.
“He was one of the most important justices that we’ve had on the Supreme Court, for the ideas that he brought to the court and the vigor with which he pursued and defended them,” he said. “I think his importance lies in part, Laura, in the importance that the court has taken on over the last 50 or 60 years That was actually somewhat of a concern to him that the court was playing too large a role.”
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Scalia said his father loved the court and its work. He said his father used to say he would step down when he reached retirement age. “Once he hit 60, he never said those words again,” he said.
The younger Scalia said his mother is a strong woman who is holding up well.
“I don’t know that the Lord could design a better support network,” he said. That includes “a built-in priest,” the justice’s son, Paul.