Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that it is "not remotely" the Senate's obligation to consider the Supreme Court nominee that President Barack Obama will choose following the sudden death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. "The Senate's duty is to advise and consent," Cruz said. "You know what? The Senate is advising right now. We're advising that a lame-duck president in an election year is not going to be able to tip the balance of the Supreme Court."
The potential impact of Scalia's death on the court will now be a key political issue through the rest of the presidential contest and Cruz laid down the stakes of the fight on Sunday.
"I think his passing yesterday really underscores the stakes of this election," Cruz said, adding that the GOP "ought to make the 2016 election a referendum on the Supreme Court."
"If liberals are so confident that the American people want unlimited abortion on demand, want religious liberty torn down, want the Second Amendment taken away, want veterans' memorials torn down, want the crosses and stars of David sandblasted off of the tombstones of our fallen veterans, then go and make the case to the people," Cruz provoked.
That frequent shock line on the road often initiates the great alarm and audible awes among his conservative crowds. For months on the campaign trail, Cruz has emphasized the implications of a Democratic presidency on shifting the balance of the court.
The passing of Scalia, who he called "a lion" and "one of the greatest" justices in history, led Cruz in the last 24 hours to argue a Democratic-nominated justice would have huge implications on the direction of the country.
The Texas senator also pointedly asserted that his chief rival Donald Trump's "record is indistinguishable" from Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on "many issues."
"He has supported liberals for four decades: Jimmy Carter, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid. Anyone who cares about judges would not be supporting Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer and John Kerry and Hillary Clinton," he continued.
Cruz also addressed his statement during the Saturday debate that he would not have supported the nomination of John Roberts to the highest court. This was in contrast to a National Review op-ed he penned in 2005 while Texas solicitor general. In it Cruz called for Roberts to be "swiftly" confirmed.
On Sunday, Cruz clarified, "I would not have nominated John Roberts. Once George Bush nominated him, I supported the nomination as a Republican nominee."