Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will take a break from the presidential campaign trail Saturday morning to attend the funeral of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, the Republican's campaign said late Thursday.
Cruz, who interacted with the high court both as a law clerk to then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist and as a former Texas solicitor general, had been scheduled to be in South Carolina on the day of its presidential primary election. "Justice Scalia was a lion of the law. He was someone I knew for 20 years. He was brilliant, principled. Like Ronald Reagan was to the presidency, so Justice Scalia was to the Supreme Court. And his passing leaves a huge void on that court," Cruz said at a forum hosted by CNN Thursday night.
The Cruz campaign said he plans to return to South Carolina by Saturday evening to attend an election night event in Columbia.
Before changing his own plans, Cruz had criticized President Barack Obama's decision not to attend the funeral. The White House has said Obama will pay his respects during a visit to the Supreme Court on Friday, instead, while Vice President Joe Biden will attend on Saturday.
A spokesman for Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush also appeared to criticize the president's decision, but Bush has not announced plans to attend, himself. Despite criticism of Obama, Bush said he understand the president's intention to nominate a replacement for Scalia, who was found dead on Feb. 13. "I probably would," Bush said.
Since Scalia's death, Cruz has made the Supreme Court a key issue in his campaign. He released a television ad telling voters they cannot trust Republican front-runner Donald Trump to nominate a conservative nominee and has threatened to filibuster Obama's pick.
Besides Cruz, no other presidential candidate has said they will attend Scalia's funeral. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernard Sanders I-Vt, are in Nevada for the Democratic caucuses on Saturday.