The GOP presidential debate in South Carolina began with a moment of silence for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died early Saturday.
Following that, debate moderator John Dickerson asked each candidate what the Constitution says about replacing court justices, and whether or not President Barack Obama should attempt to nominate a replacement in the final months of his presidency.
Beginning with Donald Trump, every candidate on the stage said Obama should not, or should not be allowed to, nominate the replacement. Asked whether he would nominate a replacement justice if he had only a few months left as president, Trump said he would. He also said the Senate, which will need to bless the nominee by a majority vote, should “delay, delay, delay” the vote on an Obama nominee until Obama’s term runs out.
Ben Carson said the Constitution doesn’t directly address the standing president’s right to nominate, but he said Obama will certainly make a nomination. He’s right: Obama said earlier in the day that he will attempt to replace Scalia.
Jeb Bush said it would be best if the president nominates a “consensus-oriented” candidate, but he doubted that Obama would.
John Kasich called on the president to allow the delay of the nomination until next year.
Ted Cruz said the same thing as the others, adding that no justice has been confirmed in an election year for 80 years. CBS’s Dickerson quickly challenged the statement.
After Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina dropped out of the race this week, just six candidates remain: real-estate developer Donald Trump, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Ohio Governor John Kasich, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.