Cruz: Precedent exists for keeping Supreme Court short-staffed
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When asked about taking up Supreme Court nominees under a Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders: 'Outrageous' to suggest Gabbard 'is a foreign asset' Clinton attacks on Gabbard become flashpoint in presidential race Saagar Enjeti: Clinton remarks on Gabbard 'shows just how deep the rot in our system goes' MORE presidency, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Trump has had a rough October Hillicon Valley: GOP lawmakers offer election security measure | FTC Dem worries government is 'captured' by Big Tech | Lawmakers condemn Apple over Hong Kong censorship Lawmakers condemn Apple, Activision Blizzard over censorship of Hong Kong protesters MORE (R-Texas) said history shows the Supreme Court can function with fewer than nine justices.

“You know, I think there will be plenty of time for debate on that issue,” he said Wednesday when asked whether a GOP Senate would vote on Clinton’s nominees, according to The Washington Post.

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“There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” the former Republican presidential candidate added.

“I would note, just recently, that Justice [Stephen] Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s the debate we are going to have.”

Cruz added voters need a “check and balance” on the presidency, regardless of whether Clinton or Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE wins on Election Day.

“I think for those of us who care passionately about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, who care about free speech and religious liberty and the Second Amendment, the best way to protect those rights is to win on Election Day so that we see strong conservatives nominated to the court, and maintain a Republican majority in the Senate to confirm those strong conservatives. And that’s what I’m fighting to do.”

Cruz was campaigning in Colorado on behalf of GOP Senate candidate Darryl Glenn in his race against Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennett, the Post reported.

Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last February has left the Supreme Court with a vacant seat during a presidential election cycle.

President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland as his replacement in March, but Senate Republicans have refused to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination.

Senate Republicans argue Obama’s successor should pick Scalia’s replacement.

Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, has frequently vowed he will nominate conservatives like Scalia to the nation’s highest court if elected.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have debated whether taking up Garland’s nomination is better now rather than running the risk of Clinton picking a more liberal justice should the Democratic presidential nominee defeat Trump on Nov. 8.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyMulvaney faces uncertain future after public gaffes State cites 38 people for violations in Clinton email review Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle mourn Cummings MORE (R-Iowa) on Tuesday said the Senate cannot block potential Supreme Court nominations from Clinton if she becomes president.

“We will clearly vet, and then once that’s done, we will make a decision whether we will vote for or against, but…if that new president happens to be Hillary, we can’t just simply stonewall,” the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee told reporters during a conference call.

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTrump thanks Reid for warning Democrats not to underestimate him Reid warns Democrats not to underestimate Trump Harry Reid predicts Trump, unlike Clinton, won't become more popular because of impeachment MORE (D-Nev.) late Wednesday said Cruz's remarks show the need for Democrats to win the Senate majority. 

"Ted Cruz and [Sen.] John McCainJohn Sidney McCainPublisher announces McSally book planned for May release Democrats lead Trump by wide margins in Minnesota Here's what to watch this week on impeachment MORE [R-Ariz.] may have given away the Republican game plan on the Supreme Court," he said in an email sent on behalf of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee's (PCCC) to its members. "And we need to treat it like the constitutional crisis it will be if Democrats don't take back the Senate majority."
 
"That means the Supreme Court could dwindle to seven, then maybe six Justices. It would turn our justice system and our democracy on its head. The Founding Fathers would roll over in their graces," he added.
  
The Nevada lawmaker additionally called on progressives to back Democratic candidates in six tight Senate races in battleground states.