Scalia dominates beginning of GOP debate

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.

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“I think he's going to do it whether I'm OK with it or not,” Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE said about the prospect of Obama putting forth a nominee.

“I think it's up to Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform 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 Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Tillerson, Trump deny report of rift | Tillerson says he never considered resigning | Trump expresses 'total confidence' in secretary | Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad Rubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts GOP establishment doubts Bannon’s primary powers 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 CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets 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 Hussein ObamaAll five living former presidents to attend hurricane relief concert Overnight Health Care: Schumer calls for tying ObamaCare fix to children's health insurance | Puerto Rico's water woes worsen | Dems plead for nursing home residents' right to sue Interior moves to delay Obama’s methane leak rule 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.