South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he thinks Texas Sen. Ted Cruz should be a Supreme Court nominee of President-elect Donald Trump to replace the late Antonin Scalia. There is "no stronger constitutional conservative" than Cruz, said the former presidential primary foe of Cruz.
"I would put Ted Cruz on that list," Graham told reporters at a Veterans Day event in Greenville, S.C., reports Greenville Online. "I would suggest that President Trump look within the Senate."
"There is some talent there," he added.
These statements come as a surprise to some people after Graham, who reluctantly endorsed Cruz during the Republican primaries following his own failed bid, once joked Cruz could be murdered without punishment. "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you," Graham joked in February, reports Politico.
Graham, a member of Corinth Baptist Church, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002, and was re-elected in 2008 and 2014. He earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina. He dropped out of the presidential race in December, before the nominating contests began.
Cruz has significant experience with the Supreme Court, according to The Blaze. In 1996, he served as a clerk to then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist. During his tenure as Solicitor General of Texas, Cruz successfully argued numerous cases before the high court.
Trump has said Cruz's good friend, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, would be on his Supreme Court shortlist.
In May, Trump released the following list of potential Supreme Court nominees, but did not share how the names were chosen. Trump's selections consisted of six federal appeals court judges appointed by President George Bush and five state supreme court justices appointed by Republican governors. All are white, and eight of the 11 are men, reported the New York Times.
They included several judges, such as Dianne S. Sykes. The federal appeals court judges on the list included Steven Colloton of the Eighth Circuit, a former clerk to Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, and Raymond Kethledge of the Sixth Circuit, who clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
The state supreme court justices included Joan Larsen of Michigan, a former clerk to Justice Scalia, and also Allison H. Eid of Colorado, David Stras of Minnesota and Thomas Rex Lee of Utah, all three of whom clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas. In addition, Judge Lee's father, Rex, served as solicitor general in the Reagan administration.
Another state supreme court justice on the list, Don Willett of Texas, previously worked for the Bush White House's office of faith-based initiatives and later in Texas government, where he pushed to keep a monument of the Ten Commandments on public property and the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, issues he has promoted on his Facebook page.