According to KVIA he passed away while on a hunting trip Marfa, TX.
It is hard to imagine a worse thing happening to the Republic than Obama appointing a Supreme Court Justice. Hopefully Congress will hold out long enough to see someone else sworn in. If they don’t then there will be hell to pay.
Update: Just to add a couple of other thoughts now that I have had a few moment to digest the terrible news. The Senate will have to declare pro forma sessions to keep Obama from making an interim appointment while Congress is out of session. I would watch for the usual Quislings to be wined and dined. Watch for McConnell, McCain, Graham, Murkowski etc… to try to play power broker and make a deal. This si the sort of thing Rubio would do if he were not running for president but the fact that he is will keep him from joining any grand compromise.
The GOP has a 10 vote majority in the Senate, which is the body which must approve any Supreme Court appointment. I suspect Obama will be able to roll the 5-6 Senators he will need to get an appointment through. The firewall will have to be the judiciary committee and I am not qualified to analyze what they may or may not do. Given they are more or less selected by the majority leader I would not count on that plug holding.
The press will be in full rah-rah mode. They will decry the country having to go with just eight justices. The left (which includes the press) will pull every dirty trick they can think of to try to force a vote. I expect Cruz to state his intentions to filibuster any nominee. He is uniquely positioned to lead this fight. Trump is in no position to help at all. Indeed, his past statements about how one of his relatives would make a great Supreme Court nominee will be used against him.
I will also point out that Cruz’s willingness to stand athwart the Senate yelling, “Stop!” at crucial junctures in the past is exactly what we need now. The other presidential candidates running against him will not be able to argue we need a deal maker with any effectiveness. This fight will take that argument completely off the table.