Back in May, Rick Perry did a surprisingly good job identifying the top issue of the 2016 presidential race. “Something I want you all to think about is that the next president of the United States, whoever that individual may be, could choose up to three, maybe even four members of the Supreme Court,” he told a South Carolina audience.
No matter where one stands politically or ideologically, it was an important point. By Inauguration Day 2017, three current Supreme Court justices will be at least 80 years old. The average retirement age for a justice? According to one analysis: 78.7 – a number that suggests a fourth justice, Justice Stephen Breyer, may also be in the mix. (Breyer will be 78.2 years old on the next Inauguration Day.)
Perry, of course, has left the race, but Politico had an interesting report the other day noting that there’s another Republican presidential hopeful who’s also focusing quite a bit on the high court.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who argued nine cases before the Supreme Court as solicitor general of Texas, declared on Friday almost every Democratic nominee to the high court has voted as a “radical leftist nutcase.”And he said that half of Republican-appointed justices are “screaming trainwreck disasters,” specifically naming Earl Warren, the former chief justice who is best known for authoring the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed segregation but who also earned conservatives ire for running an activist court. (Cruz supports the Brown v. Board decision.)
While speaking at a Heritage Action forum, the Texas senator said to applause, “You know, Democrats are batting almost 1.000 when it comes to Supreme Court nominees. Every Supreme Court nominee they put forward votes like a radical leftist nutcase.”
Cruz added, “Republicans, we bat about .500. About half of Republican Supreme Court justices actually honor their oath to defend the Constitution. The other half are screaming trainwreck disasters. Earl Warren was a Republican nominee. Bill Brennan was a Republican nominee. John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Harry Blackmun, who authored Roe vs. Wade was a Republican nominee.”
All of this came just days after Cruz also took aim at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, whose nomination Cruz once championed, but who no longer enjoys the senator’s support.
As for the notion that Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor vote like “radical leftist nutcases,” it’s hard not to conclude that the condemnation says more about Ted Cruz than his intended targets.