GOP Presidential Candidates Weigh in on How They Would Handle Supreme Court Vacancy

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died today.

ByABC News
February 13, 2016, 9:34 PM

— -- The death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia at the age of 79 today prompted a moment of silence and the very first question at the Republican presidential debate in South Carolina.

Donald Trump was asked, if he were president, whether it would be an “abdication” of responsibility not to nominate a replacement Supreme Court justice with nearly a year left in his term -- the exact situation President Obama faces now.

“If I were president now, I would certainly want to try and nominate a justice,” Trump said. “And I'm sure that, frankly, I'm absolutely sure that President Obama will try and do it.”

But Trump added that he hoped the GOP-controlled Senate would be able to delay Obama’s attempt to replace Scalia.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich argued that Obama should not move forward and instead let the next president decide who should replace Scalia.

“The country is so divided right now, and now we're going to see another partisan fight taking place,” Kasich said. “I really wish the president would think about not nominating somebody.”

However, if Obama were to nominate someone, Kasich said he should “pick somebody that is going to have unanimous approval and such widespread approval across the country that this could happen without a lot of recrimination.”

Sen. Marco Rubio said President Obama should not appoint a replacement.

“And it’s not unprecedented,” he said. “In fact It's been over 80 years since a lame duck president has appointed a Supreme Court justice.”

Carson was asked by moderator John Dickerson of CBS News: “What does the constitution say about whose duty it is here to act in this kind of a situation?”

“The constitution actually doesn't address that particular situation,” Carson answered.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was asked whether, if elected, he would have a “litmus test” for whom to nominate to the high court.

“Not on specific issues,” Bush said, adding: “The simple fact is the next president needs to appoint someone with a proven conservative record, similar to Justice Scalia.”

Sen. Ted Cruz called on the U.S. Senate to “stand strong” when President Obama nominates a replacement for Scalia as the president said today he intends to do.

“We're not gonna give up the U.S. Supreme court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee,” Cruz said.