A day after the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz took to the pulpit Sunday at a Port Royal church to call for the appointment of another conservative to the country’s highest court.
Scalia, who was an influential member of the court’s conservative majority, was a “champion of the constitution and lion of the of the law,” Cruz said while giving a guest sermon at the Community Bible Church.
Less than a week from South Carolina’s Republican primary, Cruz echoed calls from conservative lawmakers that Scalia’s replacement not be selected until after the presidential election in November.
“It’s become clear now that not one but two branches of government hang in the balance,” Cruz said. “... And one of the most important determinations the men and women of South Carolina will make … is (electing a president) to nominate Supreme Court justices who will be faithful to the constitution and defend the Bill of Rights.”
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He called on fellow senators to reject any “lame-duck nominees” that might be offered by President Barack Obama in the coming months.
It’s become clear now that not one but two branches of government hang in the balance.
Sen. Ted Cruz
Cruz, an avowed evangelical, made his case in front of a packed house of nearly 2,000 churchgoers.
His sermon, titled “Faith in Action,” pressed a range of conservative hot buttons, from religious liberty to abortion rights to the Second Amendment.
Cruz warned that a “radical … left-wing majority” on the Supreme Court could result in “unlimited abortions on demand across this country … with taxpayer funding and no parental notification.”
He called the high court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide “fundamentally illegitimate, lawless, unconstitutional and wrong.”
The senator drew applause from the firearms owners in the crowd Sunday, saying, “I understand here in South Carolina you are kind of fond of your guns. As a Texan, I can relate.”
If Scalia is replaced with a “liberal justice,” the right to bear arms “will essentially be written out of the Constitution,” Cruz said.
His message appeared to resonate with attendees at Sunday’s service.
Michelle Mohrmann said she plans to vote for Cruz in the Feb. 20 primary election because she knows “where he stands on the Constitution.”
“What I heard today just reinforced that (Cruz) is a man after God’s own heart,” she said. “And if this country does not follow God, we are lost.”
Jordan Graham, a 23-year-old first-time voter, said he still hasn’t decided which Republican candidate he will vote for, but Sunday’s sermon helped push him in Cruz’s direction.
“I thought it was a really good speech. (Cruz) was very articulate and made his points very well,” Graham said.
While Cruz’s sermon avoided direct mention of Donald Trump, he did address his Republican rival during a brief question-and-answer session with members of the media after the church service.
“Donald Trump is someone I like personally, but (for) his entire adult life he has been a liberal,” Cruz said.