Following the announcement that Justice Antonin Scalia passed away early Saturday morning at the age of 79, GOP candidates took to the stage during the Republican debate on CBS to remember the judge — and discuss the next steps. With talk of whether Obama will nominate a new Supreme Court Justice during the last year of his term, Republicans have already announced they will block any nomination coming from him. "I believe that the president should not move forward and I think we ought to let the next president [decide]...with a vote by the people of the United States of America," John Kasich said, after expressing hopes that Obama will "pick someone who will have unanimous approval."
Ted Cruz, in the meantime, passionately implored the Senate to "stand strong" against any nomination. "We are one justice away from a Supreme Court that will strike down every restriction on abortion...we are one justice away from a Supreme Court that would undermine the religious liberty of millions of Americans," Cruz said. Scalia, who most recently is known for penning the dissenting opinions in the Supreme Court cases on Obamacare and same-sex marriage, was also applauded by Cruz for being someone who "was faithful to the Constitution. He changed the arc of American legal history." In an opposition to the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision, Scalia wrote, "The Court's decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery. That philosophy ignores the American people's decision to give Congress '[a]ll legislative Powers' enumerated in the Constitution." And in his widely quoted opposition to SCOTUS' approval of same-sex marriage, Scalia wrote: "Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say." Obama announced prior to the debate that he will be naming a nominee, who must go through the Senate to be approved. "I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibilities to nominate a successor in due time,” Obama said. “There’s plenty of time...for the Senate to fulfill its responsibility to give that person a fair hearing and a timely vote. These are responsibilities I take seriously, as should everyone.”
Earlier today, Hillary Clinton also spoke out against such calls after offering condolences to Scalia's family. "The Republicans in the Senate and on the campaign trail who are calling for Justice Scalia’s seat to remain vacant dishonor our Constitution," she said. "The Senate has a constitutional responsibility here that it cannot abdicate for partisan political reasons." Of course, any candidate nominated must be approved by the Senate, a process that can take as long as three months, as seen in the case of Clarence Thomas. "It’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year," Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said today. It is, however, the President of the United States' constitutional right to nominate a SCOTUS replacement and the Senate's job to fill that seat.