Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia remembered as intellectual force

WASHINGTON (KGO) -- For those who knew Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, his passing is a shocking loss.

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.

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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.

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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.

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