GOP presidential candidate Ted CruzTed CruzTexas Dem targets Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 What are 'religious liberty' bills really about? Fiorina calls for special prosecutor for Russia probe MORE said in an interview broadcast early Sunday that the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia underscores the stakes in the 2016 race.

ADVERTISEMENT
“We are facing our fundamental rights in the balance,” the Texas senator said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,“ citing “abortion on demand,” “religious liberty” and the Second Amendment.

When asked if the Senate has an obligation to at least consider a nomination that President Obama puts forward, Cruz responded, “Not remotely.”

“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year,” Cruz said. “There is a long tradition that you don't do this in an election year. And what this means, Chuck, is we ought to make the 2016 election a referendum on the Supreme Court.”

“The Senate's duty is to advise and consent,” he added. “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, that we're going to have an election.”

Cruz also said that no single issue stands out as a litmus test for nominees.

“Well, my litmus test for any Supreme Court justice is whether he or she will faithfully apply the Constitution,” Cruz said. “It's not a specific issue. It is rather a jurisprudential approach. And the only way to determine that is if they have a proven record.”

Cruz also said he would not have nominated Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

“He didn't have a track record,” Cruz said. “Once George Bush nominated him, I supported the nomination as a Republican nominee. But I would've nominated Mike Luttig, my former boss, who was a court of appeals judge, who was Justice Scalia's very first law clerk. And like Justice Scalia, had a long-proven track record. And Chuck, just as Ronald Reagan was to the presidency, so Antonin Scalia was to the Supreme Court. He had that big an impact.”