Saturday afternoon, the country ground to a halt as news broke of the death of senior Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia had flown Friday to a luxury hunting resort in the Big Bend region of Texas called Cibolo Creek Ranch, as DCist and others report, attended a function with about 40 others last night, and was found dead this morning of apparent natural causes. He was 79.

The famously conservative constructionist spent his latter career on the nation's higher court arguing, often vociferously, sometimes spitefully, and always intelligently for the strict, textual interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, fighting with his more liberal colleagues over what he perceived as overstepping their roles and legislating from the bench.

In this election year, those on the left will of course need to tread lightly rather than be perceived as dancing on the man's grave, despite the enormous implications of this surprise opening on the court in the last year of President Obama's presidency — and the chance to tip the balance of the court to left for years to come. Whether Congress will be able to obstruct the President from filling that seat will now be part of the national discussion, and the election, for months to come.

The SF Chronicle got a quote from U.S. District Judge Fred Biery of the Western District of Texas who said, "My reaction is it's very unfortunate. It's unfortunate with any death, and politically in the presidential cycle we're in, my educated guess is nothing will happen before the next president is elected."

Texas governor Greg Abbott issued a statement calling Scalia an "unwavering defender of the written Constitution."

The New York Times has put up this quick obit, pausing it seems before publishing the full obituary they've no doubt already written and have filed away.

San Francisco and Silicon Valley have immediately taken to Twitter to announce and discuss the news, and discuss how the news is being believed and/or disbelieved as it breaks. The story originally broke via the San Antonio Express-News, but many people have been cautious to believe the report. It's now been confirmed both by El Paso station KVIA, and CBS News.

Some of the reactions, naturally, fall in the "too soon" category too.

And, of course, Donald Trump has already chimed in.

And we would do well to remember that Scalia was a human being, and a longtime close friend of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, despite their differences of legal opinion.

Meanwhile, PBS's Gwen Ifil tries to moderate.

Previously: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Has Died At Age 79 [DCist]