By Ben Kamisar - 02/13/16 09:47 PM EST
The opening moments of Saturday's Republican presidential debate were dominated by reactions to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death.
Several of the candidates called on the Republican Senate to block any nominee from President Obama to succeed Scalia.
“I think it's up to Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellReid: Trump is a 'hateful con man' McAuliffe: Clinton won't move TPP without changes Scalise says FCC chair should abandon set-top box plan MORE and everybody else to try to stop it. It’s called delay, delay, delay.”
Ben Carson questioned the wisdom of lifetime judicial appointments and said that the country's partisan divisiveness will not be healed under Obama, so he should not put forth a nominee.
Marco RubioMarco RubioGroups unendorse Grayson after domestic violence allegations Trump postpones Hispanic roundtable Tim Kaine backs call to boost funding for Israeli missile defense MORE said it has been more than 80 years since a lame-duck president appointed a Supreme Court justice.
A New York Times story from earlier Saturday noted that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988, while three other justices were nominated during election years.
But Rubio added that the next justice should follow in Scalia's footsteps with a commitment to originalism, viewing the Constitution as a fixed document.
“Someone on this stage will get to choose the balance on the Supreme Court and it will begin by filling this vacancy,” he said. “We need to put people on the bench who understand that the Constitution is not a living, breathing document, it is to be interpreted as originally meant.”
Ted CruzTed CruzGrassroots battling establishment on trade at conventions Fixing the disastrous nomination process Attacking Trump for the few sensible things he says is bad strategy MORE, a former Supreme Court clerk, made a similar appeal to ensure the court's balance of power remains with conservatives.
“It underscores the stakes of this election. We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will strike down every restriction on abortion adopted by the states,” he said.
“The Senate needs to stand strong and say that we are not going to give up the U.S. Supreme Court for a generation by allowing Barack ObamaBarack ObamaAn important week for Puerto Rico In Philadelphia Clinton and Trump should start naming their foreign policy picks Jesse Jackson group urges blacks to unite — and vote MORE to make one more liberal appointee,” he said. Obama appointed Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan earlier in his administration.
John Kasich and Jeb Bush broke from the field, calling for a consensus nominee — though both noted that it's unlikely Obama would put forth a nominee who could win support from Democrats and the GOP.
Kasich questioned the immediate rush to political questions after the death of the court's longest-serving justice.
“It’s not even two minutes after the death of Judge Scalia, nine children here today, their father didn’t wake up. His wife — it’s sad. I wish we didn’t run so fast into politics,” he said.