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 TrumpIllinois governor says state has gotten 10 percent of medical equipments it's requested Biden leads Trump by 6 points in national poll Tesla offers ventilators free of cost to hospitals, Musk says MORE said about the prospect of Obama putting forth a nominee.

“I think it's up to Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms 14 things to know for today about coronavirus Trump says he wouldn't have acted differently on coronavirus without impeachment 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 RubioPompeo: Countries must 'step up,' provide 'transparent' coronavirus information to save lives China did not count coronavirus positives if patient had no symptoms: report Trump seeks to sell public on his coronavirus response 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 CruzFlorida sheriff asks for new leads in disappearance of Carole Baskin's former husband after Netflix's 'Tiger King' drops Ted Cruz jokes about quarantine boredom, 'Tiger King' Trump faces mounting pressure to unleash Defense Production Act 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 ObamaBiden's pick for vice president doesn't matter much Obama urges voters to 'demand better' after Trump rolls back fuel standards Trump administration rolls back Obama-era fuel efficiency standards 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.