TED CRUZ: Obama shouldn't appoint Justice Scalia's successor

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at 79
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies at 79

Presidential candidate and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) lauded Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia after news of the justice's death broke Saturday, but said President Barack Obama should not be the one to appoint his replacement.

"Justice Scalia was an American hero. We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement," he tweeted.

Cruz, who served as Texas' solicitor general argued several cases in front of Scalia, praised the justice's decades-long tenure on the court. He singled out his insistence on a textual interpretation of the US Constitution.

Click through reactions to Justice Antonin Scalia's death:

"Today our Nation mourns the loss of one of the greatest Justices in history – Justice Antonin Scalia," Cruz said in a statement. "A champion of our liberties and a stalwart defender of the Constitution, he will go down as one of the few Justices who single-handedly changed the course of legal history."

The statement continued:

"As liberals and conservatives alike would agree, through his powerful and persuasive opinions, Justice Scalia fundamentally changed how courts interpret the Constitution and statutes, returning the focus to the original meaning of the text after decades of judicial activism. And he authored some of the most important decisions ever, including District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized our fundamental right under the Second Amendment to keep and bear arms. He was an unrelenting defender of religious liberty, free speech, federalism, the constitutional separation of powers, and private property rights. All liberty-loving Americans should be in mourning."

Others wasted little time predicting the political fallout of Scalia 's sudden death Saturday.

A spokesperson for Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tweeted that Senate Republicans would likely attempt to push the confirmation of Scalia's replacement into the next president's term.

Indeed, the replacement of Supreme Court justices has become a major 2016 presidential campaign issue, as court watchers had speculated that some current members of the bench could retire. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's website has an entire page dedicated to the court, warning supporters that a Republican president could oversee a shift to the right.

"As many as four seats on the Supreme Court could become vacant during the next few years — which means that a Republican president could have the power to transform the court, and American law, for generations to come," Clinton's site says.

"That's why it's so terrifying when Ted Cruz says he would be 'willing to spend the capital to ensure that every Supreme Court nominee that I put on the court is a principled judicial conservative.' But he's not alone: all of the Republican candidates for president are likely to appoint staunchly conservative justices."

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