Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday urged his fellow lawmakers to nominate and confirm a Supreme Court justice before the Nov. 3 presidential election following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, warning of a looming "constitutional crisis" if the seat remains vacant.
"We cannot have Election Day come and go with a four-four court," Cruz said during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. "A four-four court that is equally divided cannot decide anything. And I think we risk a constitutional crisis if we do not have a nine-justice Supreme Court, particularly when there is such a risk of a contested election."
The Texas Republican — one of President Trump's 20 potential nominees to the court, according to a list issued last week by the White House – called on Trump to nominate Ginsburg's successor next week. Ginsburg died Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87.
"I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day," he said. "There's going to be enormous pressure from the media, there's going to be enormous pressure from the Democrats to delay filling this vacancy. But this election, this nomination is why Donald Trump was elected. This confirmation is why the voters voted for a Republican majority in the Senate."
Cruz continued: "I'll tell you one reason in particular why I think it is tremendously important that not only does the nomination happen next week, but that the confirmation happen before Election Day. Democrats and Joe Biden have made clear they intend to challenge this election. They intend to fight the legitimacy of this election. As you know, Hillary Clinton has told Joe Biden 'under no circumstances should you concede. You should challenge this election.'"
Earlier in the night, before learning of Ginsburg's death, Trump told supporters at a Minnesota rally that he was "putting Ted Cruz as one of the people for the Supreme Court."
"Ted’s the only man I know who could get 100 votes from the Senate," he said. "Every single senator is going to vote for him. But he’s a great guy, and he's a brilliant guy.”
Cruz has said that he would not accept a nomination to the Supreme Court.
"It is deeply honoring, it is humbling to be included in the list," he said during an interview on "Sunday Morning Futures." "But it's not the desire of my heart. I want to be in the political fight."
Ginsburg's death, less than seven weeks before the Nov. 3 election, sets up a fierce partisan battle over the future of the court.
Conservatives outnumbered liberals on the court 5-4 before the death of Ginsburg, a liberal stalwart. With a new right-leaning justice, conservatives could hold a solid 6-3 majority.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pledged on Friday that "President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate."
"Americans reelected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary," McConnell said in a statement. “Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”
Republicans hold a slim 53-47 majority in the Senate, and it's unclear that they have the necessary votes to nominate and confirm a new justice. A simple majority of senators present and voting is required for the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has already said the open seat should not be filled until after the Nov. 3 election.
"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president," Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted on Friday.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has vowed to nominate a Black woman to the nation's highest court system, though he has not released specific candidates.
In a statement Friday night, the former vice president said the Senate should wait until after the election to nominate and confirm a new justice, citing Republicans' opposition in 2016 to former President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to fill Scalia's seat.
"The voters should pick a president, and that President should select a successor to Justice Ginsburg," Biden said. "This was the position that the Republican Senate took in 2016, when there were nearly nine months before the election. That is the position the United States Senate must take now, when the election is less than two months away."