Tonight’s Republican presidential debate from Greenville, South Carolina, on CBS started off with a tribute and moment of silence for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died at age 79.
The first question of the night went to Donald Trump, whom moderator John Dickerson asked if he would name a new justice to replace Scalia if he was in President Barack Obama’s place now.
“I think he’s going to do it whether I’m okay with it or not,” Trump said, adding that the name of
John Kasich went next, questioning how Scalia’s death has been politicized before his family has a chance to mourn. Kasich also said he wants the president to think about the country first “for once.”
Ben Carson agreed, saying, “We should not allow a judge to be appointed at this time.”
Marco Rubio quickly chimed in with a dig at Obama.
“It’s been over 80 years since a lame duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice,” Rubio said before adding that the vacancy underscores the importance of the upcoming election.
Ted Cruz appeared to botch his facts when he said that there hasn’t been a Supreme Court justice confirmed under a “lame duck” president in 80 years. Dickerson quickly noted that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed in 1988, during the last year of Ronald Reagan’s administration.
It seems Rubio and Cruz meant the same thing, but the terms “appointed” and “confirmed” are the distinction that Dickerson was referring to.
Jeb Bush said that he does not have a litmus test for appointing a judge to the U.S. Supreme Court. Bush added that the “simple fact” is that Obama would need to nominate someone who “believes in limited government” and didn’t try to “legislate from the bench.”