Picking a replacement for retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy could prove to be the "most significant thing" President Donald Trump does in his entire time in office, Sen. Ted Cruz said Thursday.
"This is truly historic," the Texas Republican told Fox News' "Fox and Friends." "This could well prove to b the most significant thing Donald Trump does in office and the most significant thing the Republican Senate does."
Kennedy, for 31 years, "has been the pivotal swing vote on virtually every 5-4 decision," Cruz continued. "If you care about the constitutional Bill of Rights, free-speech or religious liberty, the Second Amendment, the Fourth Amendment or the 10th Amendment, all our rights as Americans come through the crossroads of the courts."
The nomination means an opportunity for Trump to "nominate a strong constitutionalist, which could be his single greatest legacy 20, 30, 40 years from now," the senator added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, has called for delaying the the approval of a justice until after the midterm elections in November, and Cruz said he's not surprised by that.
"Democrats are setting their hair on fire," said Cruz. "They are apoplectic. If Justice [Antonin] Scalia had not passed away, there's a possibility Hillary Clinton would be president of the United States right now. This was a major issue, a major reason we have Donald Trump and have a Republican majority in the Senate."
The American people, he continued, "want justices who will defend the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Democrats want judicial activists, they want liberal extremists who will force their partisan agenda on the country, most of us don't want to be governed by five unelected lawyers in Washington."
Cruz has said he would back his colleague, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who is on the president's list of potential judges.
The senator also said Monday he believes two others, who are not on the list, would be good choices. U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who won the travel ban case in front of the Supreme Court, would make a "phenomenal justice."as would Fifth Court Appellate Judge James Ho.
Cruz also discussed the president's plans for a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on July 16, saying that he does believe Trump will stay strong when dealing with Russia.
"We have seen Russia over the last decade get more aggressive, more hostile to the United States," he said. "Under Barack Obama we saw a policy of weakness and appeasement. I think that only encouraged Putin."
"I'm grateful that under the Trump administration, we have an administration that will stand up and be strong, stand up for America's friends and stand up to our enemies and I'm hopeful of this summit that the president comes from a position of strength, that is the right way to deal with Vladimir Putin and Russia," said Cruz, adding that Putin would like to recreate the old Soviet Union.
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