Sen. Ted Cruz cites possible contested presidential election in rapid push to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat

State & Regional

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) asks a question at a Judiciary Committee hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on June 16, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

(ABC NEWS) — Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday said he is calling on the Senate to vote on a replacement for the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the November election, reversing the 2016 stand he and his fellow Republicans made to block the confirmation hearing of President Barack Obama’s pick for the high court during an election year.

During an interview on “This Week,” Cruz, who is on President Donald Trump’s shortlist for the next Supreme Court nominee, told ABC chief anchor George Stephanopoulos that the nation cannot afford to have a short-handed high court with a possible contested presidential election just 44 days away.

Ginsburg, one of four justices who made up the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, died on Friday at the age of 87 due to complications from her battle with pancreatic cancer.

NPR reported that just days before her death, Ginsburg dictated a statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera, saying, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

But just hours after Ginsburg died, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said whomever President Donald Trump picks to replace Ginsburg, will get a vote on the Senate floor, prompting an angry response from Democratic leaders, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, who described McConnell’s decision as the “height of hypocrisy.”

When President Obama nominated U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland in 2016 to fill the seat of Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative lion of the Supreme Court who died suddenly, McConnell and the majority of his Republican Senate colleagues refused to grant a confirmation hearing 10 months before the Presidential election, saying the next president should make the appointment.

At the time, Cruz was running for to be the Republican presidential nominee and released a statement, saying, “I proudly stand with my Republican colleagues in our shared belief — our advice and consent — that we should not vote on any nominee until the next president is sworn into office.”

Cruz praised McConnell and Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “for holding the line and ensuring that We the People get to exercise our authority to decide the direction of the Supreme Court and the Bill of Rights.”

Speaking to reporters on the campaign trail that year, Cruz cited “precedent” for a Supreme Court with fewer than nine justices.

“You know, I think there will be plenty of time for debate on that issue,” said at the time. “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices. I would note, just recently, that Justice (Stephen) Breyer observed that the vacancy is not impacting the ability of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

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