Republican Sen. Ted Cruz said the U.S. risked a "Constitutional crisis" if late Justice Ruth Bade Ginsburg's seat remained vacant ahead of the Presidential election. But his comments met with criticism from Twitter users who reminded him that in 2016 the Republican-led Senate did not consider hearing for President Barack Obama's nominee to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat following his death in February â more than 200 days before the election.
Cruz, who is one of President Donald Trump's likely nominees for Ginsburg's replacement, made the comments during an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity. He said it was "critical" for the Senate to fill the vacant seat before the Election Day, which is 45 days away.
"We cannot have Election Day come and go with a four-four court," Cruz said in the interview. "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."
Cruz said there would be "enormous pressure" from the Democrats and the media to delay filling the seat before the Nov. 3 elections. There has been fear among the Democrats that Trump will not concede if he loses the election.
"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. ... As you know, Hillary Clinton has told Joe Biden 'under no circumstances should you concede," he said.
However, Cruz's comments triggered backlash from Twitter users. While his supporters said that he made an "excellent point" about the eight-justice Supreme Court risking a "constitutional crisis" ahead of the election, several users asked him why he did not think about the deadlock before the 2016 presidential elections.
Cruz's opinion echoed that of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who confirmed that the Senate will vote to fill the vacant seat. This is in stark contradiction with his 2016 decision to refuse to consider late Justice Scalia's replacement suggested by then President Obama.
"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," McConnell said, following Scalia's death. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president." However, McConnel argued that the situation today was different since the president and the Senate majority were agreement.