He was an intellectual heavyweight on the Supreme Court and his death has just ratcheted up the stakes in American politics beyond the presidential race.
Justice Scalia was often the most forceful and eloquent voice on conservative decisions.
University of California Hastings law professor David Levine spent a summer with Justice Scalia as a visiting professor in Sienna, Italy. Despite Scalia's reputation as a conservative firebrand, Levine says he was a charming man to spend time with, a person who was unafraid of sharing his point of view.
RELATED: Reactions to passing of Justice Antonin Scalia
He says Scalia's passing has significantly raised the stakes in the United States presidential race.
"You've got a presidential election coming up and because everybody knows that this slot could change the balance of power of the Supreme Court for decades to come, so the stakes could not be higher," Levine said.
Levine says Supreme Court confirmations can take months, especially if the Republican controlled Senate delays or votes down any of President Barack Obama's possible nominees.
Levine pointed out current Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was President Ronald Reagan's third nominee.
A president versus senate stand off could also focus attention on senatorial races. Republicans are defending more seats than Democrats this year.
IN MEMORIAM: Celebs and notable figures who have recently passed away
Pres. Obama on the passing of Justice Scalia: "He was a larger than life presence on the bench." pic.twitter.com/SXC9kD1set— ABC News (@ABC) February 14, 2016
Saddened to learn of the passing of Justice Scalia, who made history as first Italian American named to the SCOTUS. https://t.co/KV7u52pQ6I— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) February 13, 2016
The president will nominate someone to replace Antonin Scalia, sources tell me. (Not a surprise but given the debate thought worth checking)— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 14, 2016
Pres. George W. Bush on Scalia: ?He was a a towering figure and important judge on our Nation's highest court." pic.twitter.com/RUwPvVTdSk— ABC News (@ABC) February 13, 2016
Justice Scalia has passed away. We send our sincere condolences to the Scalia family.— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) February 13, 2016
Breaking: Local news carrying unconfirmed reports that Justice Scalia has passed away. We are attempting to confirm.— SCOTUSblog (@SCOTUSblog) February 13, 2016
Devastating lose of Justice Scalia. A legal giant who steered the Supreme Court onto the Constitution. God Bless him.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) February 13, 2016