“The Scalia seat is defense,” said Cruz, talking about the opening left by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last February. “We’re not going to get any better than Justice Scalia. The best we can do is preserve constitutional victories like upholding the Second Amendment … I think we’ll have another Supreme Court vacancy this summer. If that happens, as much as the left is crazy now, they will go full Armageddon.”
President Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace Scalia. Cruz predicted that Gorsuch would be confirmed.
A Cruz spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment seeking further details on why Cruz thinks there will be another vacancy.
Cruz made his remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists near the District in National Harbor, Md. He answered questions from conservative radio host Mark Levin on stage in a sprawling hotel ballroom.
There are five justices seen by conservatives as too liberal: Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Anthony M. Kennedy.
Kennedy is often a swing vote. Kagan and Sotomayor are the two newest members of the court — likely making them the least probable to leave. Ginsburg, 83, is the oldest member of the court. Kennedy is 80. Breyer is 78.
Speculating on the future of Supreme Court justices has gotten a lawmaker into trouble before. In 2009, then-Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) predicted that Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer in nine months.
Cruz also weighed in on what he thinks Trump’s goals should be in the coming months. He said in his remarks his overarching message to the Trump administration is simple: “Let’s do what we promised.”
Cruz and Trump clashed as rivals in the GOP primaries, but their public war of words has settled in recent months.
The Texas Republican encouraged Trump to “take on directly the regulatory state” and “fire bureaucrats.” He also pushed for an ambitious 2017 to-do list for Republicans that included repealing the Affordable Care Act, overhauling the nation’s tax laws and confirming a Supreme Court justice.
The appearance marked one of Cruz’s most prominent public appearances in recent months. He seemed to be relishing his time before an enthusiastic crowd as he spoke, dropping jokes throughout in a manner that was reminiscent of his pitch on the campaign trail.
Cruz took aim at congressional Democrats for resisting the Trump administration’s nominees and agenda.
“They are in denial, and they’re angry,” Cruz said. He added, “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
During President Barack Obama’s time in office, Cruz regularly fought Democratic leadership and defied top Republicans. He led a push to shred the federal health-care law that led to a government shutdown in 2013. He also voted against John F. Kerry for secretary of state.
Cruz and Levin took the stage to an upbeat song.
“I’m pretty sure that’s the first time we ever walked out to dance music,” the senator quipped.
“Well, I did think about holding hands but I didn’t think that would come off right,” Levin responded.
A few moments later, Levin sarcastically remarked that they were assuredly not at a Democratic National Committee event, given the ample support there for the Constitution.
“I think the smell would be somewhat different” at a Democratic gathering, Cruz responded.
To which Levin replied, “He means pot.”