U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been found dead at a resort in West Texas.

Scalia, the judicial standard-bearer of the conservative movement and the court's most provocative member was 79.

The death of Scalia means President Obama could have an unprecedented chance to try to shift the balance of the court during his final year in office -- setting up a Senate battle in the heat of an election year.

The U.S. Marshals Service in Washington confirmed Scalia's death at a private residence in the Big Bend area of south Texas.

Scalia had apparently retired for the evening and was found dead Saturday morning when he did come out for breakfast.