A Trump on the Supreme Court? Cruz spars with frontrunner over vacancy

February 14, 2016
Republican U.S. presidential candidates (L-R) Senator Ted Cruz, businessman Donald Trump and Senator Marco Rubio pause for a moment of silence in honor of deceased Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia before the start  of the Republican U.S. presidential candidates debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina February 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  - RTX26TLF

Senator Ted Cruz, businessman Donald Trump and Senator Marco Rubio pause for a moment of silence in honor of deceased Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia before the start of the Republican debate sponsored by CBS News and the Republican National Committee in Greenville, South Carolina, February 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Rivals Donald Trump and Ted Cruz sparred over the weekend over potential replacements for the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, both questioning the conservative chops of the other.

On Sunday during an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Cruz criticized Trump for having once suggested his sister, federal court of appeals Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, for the top court.

“Donald Trump himself — you know, the one person he has suggested that — that would make a good justice is his sister, who is a court of appeals judge appointed by Bill Clinton.  She is a hard-core, pro-abortion liberal judge.  And he said she would make a terrific justice,” he said.

When moderator George Stephanopoulos noted that Trump had already backed away from the suggestion, Cruz held firm, saying the proposal was evidence of the “type of people” the billionaire businessman would nominate if elected.

“Donald Trump is not a conservative,” he added.

Trump had discussed the notion of nominating his sister for a slot in the court in interview with Fox News in October, the Washington Post reported.

“I would love to, but I think she would be the one to say, ‘No way, no way.'”

Trump, speaking on “This Week,” Sunday, said he had been joking about a nomination for his sister, and while his sister was “brilliant,” it would be a conflict of interest for him to give the nod to a family member.

“She also happens to have a little bit different views than me,” he said.  

Since Scalia’s unexpected death on Saturday, Republicans have been pressuring President Barack Obama not to nominate anyone for the lifetime appointment, arguing that, since it’s the last year of his term, Obama should save the nomination for the whomever is elected president in the 2016 contest.

The eventual Supreme Court nominee has the potential to shift the ideological balance of the high court, which had been divided five to four in favor of the conservatives before Scalia’s death. 

Obama has said he will propose a nominee for the seat in the coming weeks.

-With additional reporting by Doina Chiacu

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