Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz hates when the Supreme Court injects itself into politics. That’s why he wants to inject politics into the Supreme Court.
In a Monday interview with the “TODAY” show’s Savannah Guthrie, Cruz decried the prospect of nine un-elected Ivy League graduates taking the right to define marriage out of the hands of ordinary Americans. The Texas senator instead hopes to remedy that system by forcing Supreme Court justices to stand for re-election.
Last Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the legality of the Affordable Care Act’s federal exchanges. Twenty-four hours later, the high court ruled that the constitution requires all states to recognize same-sex marriages.
“What happened last week is twice, back-to-back, the U.S. Supreme Court — a majority of the justices violated their judicial oath,” he told Guthrie. “What we saw instead is five un-elected lawyers saying the views of 320 million Americans don’t matter because they’re going to enforce their own policies.”
In an op-ed for the National Review published Friday, Cruz argued that removing “activist” judges is impossible under our current rules of impeachment. “A Senate that cannot muster 51 votes to block an attorney-general nominee openly committed to continue an unprecedented course of executive-branch lawlessness can hardly be expected to muster the 67 votes needed to impeach an Anthony Kennedy,” he wrote in his op-ed.
To make it easier for Americans to oust Kennedy, who authored the opinion legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, Cruz proposed a new constitutional amendment that would require Supreme Court justices to face retention elections every eight years.
“The elites on the Court look at much of this country as fly-over country. They think that our views are parochial and don’t deserve to be respected,” he said. “What a crazy system to have the most important issues of our day decided by un-elected lawyers.”
Cruz has also proposed a constitutional amendment to restore authority over marriage laws to the states, and voiced his support for allowing Texas state clerks to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples, if they have a religious reason for doing so.
Guthrie asked Cruz whether that same logic should have been applied in the wake of Loving v. Virginia, a case that forced the states to recognize the validity of interracial marriages. Cruz said that he would not support clerks denying marriage licenses to interracial couples on religious grounds because, “There’s no religious backing for that.”
While the GOP’s leading presidential candidates are unanimous in their support for “traditional marriage,” they are divided on the question of how to respond to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Republican presidential candidates Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson all voiced their disagreement with the decision, but said that the country must accept the ruling, and encouraged conservatives to focus on protecting the religious liberty of individuals.
On Friday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said that he would support a constitutional amendment to allow states to pursue their own marriage laws, though he hasn’t advocated that position publicly anytime since.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called for widespread civil disobedience in defiance of the ruling, but Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was the only candidate to propose a response even more radical than those suggested by Cruz, arguing, “If we want to save some money, let’s just get rid of the court.”
Jindal, Huckabee and Cruz will likely seek to highlight the issue of same-sex marriage in the upcoming primary debates, as each looks to become the favorite candidate of the party’s social conservatives. That could create some tension on the debate stage, as many analysts believe more moderate candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio would prefer to drop the issue now that same-sex marriage has majority support in American public opinion.