Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) explained to ABC News host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday why he believes that President Donald Trump has the constitutional right to appoint a judge to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, despite the Republican-controlled Senate blocking Judge Merrick Garland in 2016.
“You and your colleagues were pretty clear back in 2016 that in an election year, [it’s] a matter for the people to decide,” Stephanopoulos began. “Is it fair for people to conclude right now that you’ve changed your tune because the president is a Republican, not a Democrat?”
After expressing appreciation and admiration for Ginsburg’s legacy, Cruz said, “Now, when the vacancy occurs, that naturally leads to the question of what will happen next. The answer, in terms of what’s going to happen next is, we know now, the president is going to make a nomination.” He said he believes “the right thing to do” is for the Senate to confirm whomever Trump nominates before Election Day.
“Now, on the question of precedent,” Cruz continued, “Look, we had this fight at the end of the Barack Obama term and, at the time, all the Democrats were saying, ‘Confirm the nominee, confirm the nominee,’ and all the Republicans were saying, ‘We’re not gonna confirm the nominee.’”
Cruz then said that if Stephanopoulos wants to play clips of him opposing a nomination during a presidential election year, he should also play clips of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supporting it.
This election matters, and I think the most important issue in 2020 is electing a President and a Senate who will nominate and confirm strong Constitutionalists to the court. pic.twitter.com/fYilfuldDT
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 20, 2020
Regarding whether “this is really about who has the votes and who has the power at any given time,” according to Stephanopoulos, Cruz said, “So no, actually it isn’t. If you look at history, if you actually look at what the precedent is, this has happened 29 times. 29 times, there has been a vacancy in a presidential election year. Now, presidents have made nominations all 29 times—that’s what presidents do. If there’s a vacancy, they make a nomination.”
Cruz went on to explain that the “big difference” is whether the Senate is in the same party as the nominating president. Of the 19 times a president nominated a justice when his party controlled the Senate, 17 of them were confirmed. Of the 10 times when the president and Senate were of different parties, the Senate has confirmed the nominee only twice, which Cruz described as an exercise in the federal government’s “checks and balances.”
Cruz also pointed out that when Stephanopoulos’ former boss, President Bill Clinton, nominated Justice Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court in 1994, he chose someone who had been nominated to the First Circuit Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter after Carter had already lost the 1980 election. Even though the Democratic Senate had been tossed out by the electorate, too, Cruz said they “took it up in December and confirmed it in the lame-duck.”
“There’s a long history here, and everyone knows that if the president were Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer were the majority leader, the odds are 100%, 100%. There’s no universe in which Nancy Pelosi would not have been the previous speaker, saying, ‘We are going to confirm this seat.'”
“And at the end of the day, how do you resolve those differences? Well, the American people do, and the American people did by electing a president and a Senate committed to justices who will defend free speech, and religious liberty, and the Second Amendment, and our fundamental rights, because all of those rights are one vote away,” Cruz added.